Former Ken Starr aide gets it wildly wrong

Paul Rosenzweig served as a senior counsel to Ken Starr during the investigations of President Bill Clinton. Rosenzweig claims that President Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice are “blunter by a thousandfold” than anything Clinton did, and more than justify the House Judiciary Committee opening impeachment proceedings.

“A thousandfold.” By how many fold would Trump’s alleged attempts at obstruction be blunter than Clinton’s if Trump had perjured himself before a grand jury and during a deposition?

Wait! That’s what Starr found Clinton did.

Rosenzweig also claims that a “significant number” of his former colleagues from the independent counsel’s office share his views about the magnitude of Trump’s “obstruction,” although Ken Starr does not. As far as I know, none of Rosenzweig’s former colleagues has said publicly that Trump’s actions were “blunter” or more obstructive of justice than Clinton’s, much less that they were a thousandfold worse.

I’d be surprised if many believe that.

Rod Rosenstein, who served on Ken Starr’s team, clearly doesn’t. Rosenstein agrees with Attorney General Barr that the conduct described in the Mueller report does not amount to obstruction of justice. Starr concluded that Clinton’s conduct did.

Barr and Rosenstein did not rely on any notion of presidential immunity or other constitutionally based defense. They simply concluded that the elements of obstruction of justice are not present on the facts laid out by Mueller.

Unlike some members of Starr’s team, Rosenstein is not a hardcore conservative. He’s a center-right Republican. Moreover, as I argued here, Rosenstein was on his way out of the Justice Department when he concurred with Barr. He gains no personal advantage from concurring. Indeed, depending on Rosenstein’s future plans, he may have disadvantaged himself by doing so.

Keep in mind too that it was Rosenstein who determined that a special counsel was needed, and who selected Mueller for the job. He has a stake in being faithful to Mueller’s final product. Thus, it seems to me that if he disagreed with Barr’s conclusion that Mueller’s findings don’t amount to obstruction of justice, Rosenstein would not have signed on to that conclusion.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Trump, under the pressure of an investigation into allegations of collusion he knew to be false, behaved badly in a number of ways. But Rosenzweig’s suggestion that Trump behaved a thousandfold worse than Clinton is ludicrous, and the less extreme claim that he behaved as badly as “Slick Willy” lacks merit.

Let’s see whether any other member of Starr’s team publicly asserts anything of the sort.

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