Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr to defend Donald Trump at trial
The two are vocal about their support for Trump, and Dershowitz has been associated with accused sex offender and Trump friend, Jeffrey Epstein
Washington — US President Donald Trump has named constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz to present arguments for his acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, Dershowitz said in an interview.
“I can confirm that I will be making oral arguments at the Senate trial addressing the constitutional issues around impeachment,” Dershowitz said.
Trump also added the former Whitewater prosecutors Ken Starr and Robert Ray to his team, according to Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow. Starr was the independent counsel for the investigation, which began with real estate deals by former president Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, and ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 for lying about an affair.
Ray succeeded Starr as independent counsel and issued the final report on the Whitewater investigation. Starr has publicly criticised Trump’s impeachment, drawing ridicule from Democrats who considered Clinton’s impeachment to be an overreach by Republicans.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Sekulow will lead the team, which will also include former Florida attorney-general Pam Bondi, who joined the White House last year to advise on impeachment, Sekulow said. A Florida lawyer for Trump, Jane Raskin, will also be on the team, he said.
“Pat and I will be leading,” Sekulow said in an interview. “We’ll be the constants” and both men will speak on “multiple” occasions, he said. Other members of the team will also have speaking roles, he said.
The Democrat-controlled House adopted two articles of impeachment against Trump last year, finding that he abused his power by trying to pressure Ukraine’s government into investigating his political rivals and then obstructed Congress by directing government officials not to cooperate with an inquiry into the episode. The Republican-led Senate will begin its trial on the two articles next week; Trump is expected to be acquitted.
Dershowitz is a celebrity lawyer who has publicly criticised Trump’s impeachment. He said he would make “exactly the same arguments if Hillary Clinton had been elected and impeached on the same grounds ... I think it creates a very dangerous precedent for future presidents”.
But he brings baggage to the president’s defence team. He has been associated with accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and faces a defamation lawsuit from a woman who says she was forced to have sex with Epstein’s friends and acquaintances, including Dershowitz, from 2000 to 2002.
Dershowitz has denied the allegation and has publicly called the woman, Virginia Giuffre, a liar on multiple occasions, leading to her suit. In October, a judge ruled that Giuffre’s case could move forward.
Dershowitz and Starr both represented Epstein in 2008 when he reached an unusually lenient plea deal with the top federal prosecutor in Miami at the time, Alex Acosta, to resolve sex-crimes charges. Acosta resigned as Trump’s labour secretary last year after Manhattan prosecutors brought new charges against Epstein for sex crimes, leading to fresh scrutiny of the Florida case.
Epstein died in a federal jail in Manhattan in August while awaiting trial. Prison officials say he committed suicide.
Dershowitz is also a registered lobbyist for an Israeli billionaire, Dan Gertler, who is sanctioned by the US treasury department for alleged corruption.