No matter the criticisms directed his way by Republicans, Robert Mueller should count himself lucky: He’s not Ken Starr.

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

The punctilious, mild-mannered independent counsel appointed by a three-judge panel in the 1990s, Starr investigated all manner of Bill Clinton scandals, most spectacularly the Monica Lewinsky affair.

A former D.C. circuit judge and U.S. solicitor general in the first Bush administration, he had struck no one prior to his appointment as a goose-stepping lieutenant in the sex police, or a partisan fanatic likely to be driven by sheer hatred to attempt to destroy a Democratic president.

Starr became all of these things for Clinton’s defenders, who thought a good offense was the best defense of a president caught lying under oath.

A former Clinton adviser said Starr’s investigation “smacks of Gestapo” and “outstrips McCarthyism.” The estimable historian Garry Wills mused that it shouldn’t be Bill Clinton, but Ken Starr who should be impeached. Anthony Lewis, a liberal lion at The New York Times, opined that Starr’s “abuses were driven by an obsessive — and, for a prosecutor, entirely inappropriate — determination to force President Clinton from office by any means available.”

On and on it went. It was trench warfare over Starr’s every move. In a signature piece of writing during the Lewinsky scandal, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd managed to portray Starr, not Bill Clinton, as the sex-obsessed goat, even though the former judge wasn’t the one chasing interns around his desk.

This history is relevant because it shows the forgetfulness of Donald Trump’s critics, who seem to believe that it’s unprecedented for a special counsel to attract the ire of a president’s defenders. In an often abnormal time, the most normal thing that’s happened over the past six months is that attitudes toward the Mueller investigation have broken down along partisan lines.

Robert Mueller may be motivated by a disinterested pursuit of the truth (tempered, one hopes, by an appropriate sense of limits), but his most ardent fans are rooting for any criminal infraction that, in their fevered dreams, will lead to President Trump getting frog-marched from the White House.

The persistent fantasy that Trump can somehow be leveraged from office is behind the push to criminalize any blameworthy conduct on his part or that of his associates.

It wasn’t just bad form in pursuit of a foolish policy for incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn to talk to Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions; it was a violation of the Logan Act.

Don Jr.’s notorious meeting with Russians wasn’t just amateurish and ill-considered; it was a violation of a law against taking an in-kind contribution from a foreign national.

The continued operation of Trump businesses isn’t just unseemly; it’s a violation of the “Emoluments Clause.”

Trump’s withdrawn directive to fire Mueller wasn’t merely a potentially catastrophic decision that he got talked out of; it was evidence of obstruction of justice.

Very little can’t be made to fit under this rubric. In his rebuttal to the Nunes memo, New York Democrat Jerry Nadler alleged that the document made Republicans an accessory to a crime — “part and parcel” of Trump’s effort “to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

Even in the worst case for Trump, Mueller is unlikely to charge him with a crime. There is longstanding Office of Legal Counsel guidance that it’s unconstitutional to indict a president while he’s in office. The worst case for Trump is probably a report by Mueller that could become, in effect, an impeachment referral.

Much will depend on the facts; on whether Mueller is willing to stand aside if he doesn’t find anything to justify his continued investigation; and who wins Congress this year and, if it’s the Democrats, by how much. But there can be little doubt that, in their hearts, most Democrats have decided for impeachment. The fighting now may be mere skirmishing compared with the larger political war to come.

Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

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(19) comments

awol2009

There is a "Storm" occurring on the Senate floor tonight between the GOP leaders. Rand Paul is calling out the Republican hypocrisy of their incessant criticism of the Obama administration and running up the deficit while the GOP plan does just that, by trillion $'s. Such DEFICIT hawk hypocrisy. Wall street dropped nearly 3,000 pts. in a week, but now tRump claims it is a conspiracy because "HE" made it do SO well. Wall St. is conspiring against tRump ? Better check your portfolio there, SnowBlob as the Perfect Storm of Doom may have already arrived. Just last week you were singing praises to tRump for your stock portfolio gains! Where is the logic of trillion dollar tax cuts and adding trillions more to our national debt? That's comparable to quitting a $30/hr job to take a job at McD's for $7.25/hr when you owe The Mob $15,000 . SnowBlob, another delusional MAGAT as tRump Makes America Gag Again.

awol2009

A "Veteran", for what? Stating the obvious with a bit of sarcasm thrown in? You never really contribute to the subject of articles on these posts. I'm not sure why.....if you lack the intellectual capacity or just prefer to harass those who do? Regardless, your comment is irrelevant, so maybe you could try and contribute something more intelligent or worthy of your alleged screen name "A Veteran".

kingman10

nope he is not intellectually capable. You see he works like 69 hours a week on the farm, so he doesn't have the time to think on his own. He does have time to troll on this site however. go figure!

A Veteran

kingman---Looks like I am intelligent enough to keep a pair of liberal loons spewing their nonsense and hate for the people to see.Awol and you are parrots for the fake media .Maybe we should call you guys POLLY one and two..LOL

kingman10

thank you for not contributing again veteran! You proved my point better than anyone could, you are incapable.

awol2009

WHO knew? Lowry can actually decipher a difference between Star & Mueller's investigation? Star wasted millions of taxpayers money to investigate a consensual affair between BJ Bill & Monica Lewinsky, while self-righteous Gingrich was bedding his "good Catholic girl, Camille", as his wife was dying. Meanwhile, Mueller, a patriotic American hero, is investigating the most treasonously, wretched, vile man currently occupying The White House. Gee, how PROFOUND is it that Rich Lowry could point out SUCH a difference???? Maybe he'll be up for a Pulitzer Prize for SUCH a REVELATION!!! EUREKA, Richy! Our country still being threatened by Russian interference, where is the outrage, Richy?

A Veteran

awol---Get some mental health help for your hate.

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

Inside every progressive is a totalitarian screaming to get out.

oldhomey

Wow! Snow as recently as last week was calling for total destruction of the Democratic Party because of its "treasonous" behavior, predicting thousands of soon-to-be announced indictments of said traitors while the Trump administration prepares Guantanomo to receive them in preparation for their execution by hanging. And now Snow has the chutzpah to declare that every progressive is a closet totalitarian. Well, at least SHE is no closet totalitarian! She daily displays her screaming totalitarian views on these posts for all to see.

oldhomey

How is this for a totalitarian mind?:
Snow Cougar Mary Burke Feb 8, 2018 5:51pm

It's about having the military in place when THE STORM is unleashed. This is not a game. Article III, Section III.

kingman10

Ken Star was special investigator into the Clintons for their White water deals, travel gate, and Lewinsky affair. With exception of the Lewinsky affair, nothing of any importance was found, no charges or crimes were revealed. Turned out the Lewinsky affair was nothing exceptional in Washington. Many congressmen who were critical of Clinton were doing the same thing or worse at that time. Thank you Newt! None of this was in any way a threat to our democracy. But now we are investigating a foreign power that tried to meddle in our election, and one candidate or party possibly colluding with that foreign power, By any stretch this is a direct threat to our democracy, and should be investigated as one. Looks like the NRA might have an involvement in all this too. Let the investigation continue.

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

Waco event was a threat to our REPUBLIC. Providing technology to N. Korea to build missiles/nukes was a threat to our REPUBLIC.

William Jefferson Clinton is one of 43. Article III, Section III.

[ninja]

kingman10

well you got one thing right snow job. Using the word waco suits you to a tee! You and #45 are going off the deep end. Must call Putin soon! In need of another adult film star.

capedcrusader

You sir are full of baloney.

oldhomey

Nothing totalitarian in a post like this! It is so good that the radical right has a woman like Snow in its employ and service, as she SO softens the radical right message, which sounds like a totalitarian bray coming from somebody like Alex Jones. She really sands down the edges. I think.

A Veteran

kingman----It is not to hard to see what party was colluding with foreign people.It was the Clinton campaign by illegally paying Steele thru a law firm to try to hide who was paying for false information from the RUSSIANS.The democrats went to court to try to prevent bank records from being released on the company that was paying Steele.That company was being paid by the law firm that was paid by the DNC and by the Clinton campaign.As you say let the investigation continue.

kingman10

Prove it! I want solid proof! And any proof you post will not be good enough. You forgot the word allegedly! Talk about using law firms, how about the one #45 used to pay that p*rn star 130,000 to keep quiet! Wait till the investigation into the russian thing is over. You and your info wars lies put you in the same category as buggs, totally wacko.

kingman10

got'em good that time! hiding in the weeds!

A Veteran

kingman--The law firm that Fusion was paid by has already confirmed that they paid Steele and the money came from the Clinton campaign and the DNC ,furthermore Shiff is saying the FBI told the FISA court this.The republicans are saying that the FBI only told the court that there was a political connection to the Steele dossier they presented to the FISA court.But it is a known fact that the law firm paid Steele.Why did the democrats go into court on Fussien side to keep congress from getting their bank records(the only logical answer is that they did not want us to know that Clinton and the DNC was paying for the dossier )Maybe you had better find that third grader so she can explain this to you,it appears to be more than you can comprehend.And no I was not hiding int the weeds I was busy repairing a tractor.As far as the p-rn star that is all he said this she said that.The lawyer in that deal denies it so where is your prove, Still have not seen an apology for lying about thing said in the SOTU speech!!!!! It looks like my method to get you to spew your hatred and nonsense is working,please keep it up>>LOL

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