/Trump unveils high-powered impeachment legal team

Trump unveils high-powered impeachment legal team

Composite image (left to right) of Ken Starr, Pam Bondi and Alan DershowitzImage copyright
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Ken Starr, Pam Bondi and Alan Dershowitz have joined the president’s defence team

US President Donald Trump’s defence team in his Senate trial will include special prosecutors from President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

He will be represented by Ken Starr and Robert Ray, who investigated Mr Clinton, and Alan Dershowitz, whose past clients include OJ Simpson.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow will lead the team, US media report.

Opening statements in the Senate trial are expected next week.

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has also reportedly been tapped to join the team.

Mr Starr, Mr Ray and Mr Dershowitz will have speaking roles in the trial, according to Politico.

Mr Dershowitz told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner that he had spoken with the president on Wednesday about the case.

“I agreed to do it an an independent constitutional scholar,” Mr Dershowitz said. “I take no position on the politics – just on the Constitution.”

He added he was “very, very concerned” about the precedent this impeachment could establish.

“It could weaken the presidency and weaponise impeachment as a partisan tactic.”

Mr Dershowitz and Mr Starr both represented disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein during his 2008 abuse trial.

Axios reported that some White House officials did not want Mr Dershowitz to join the team given his ties to Mr Epstein.

Mr Starr was the US Department of Justice independent counsel who investigated the Whitewater affair, a scandal-plagued mid-1980s land venture in Arkansas involving Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The inquiry ultimately uncovered unrelated evidence that Mr Clinton had been having an affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

The investigation culminated in the Democratic president’s impeachment by the US House of Representatives in 1998.

Mr Ray succeeded Mr Starr as the independent counsel.

Ms Lewinsky tweeted shortly after Mr Trump’s team was announced: “This is definitely an ‘are you kidding me?’ kinda day”, though she inserted an expletive.

Mr Trump was impeached by the US House of Representatives last month on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Democrats have accused him of withholding millions in military aid to Ukraine to pressure them into investigating his political rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden.

Mr Trump has vehemently denied these claims, calling the impeachment proceedings a partisan “hoax”.