President Donald Trump’s defense team for the Senate trial is expected to include former independent counsel Ken Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton, and defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, two sources familiar with the White House’s plans told NBC News Friday.
Also expected to join the team is Robert Ray, who succeeded Starr as Clinton special counsel, the sources said. Pam Bondi, former Florida attorney general, and Jane Raskin, a Miami-based criminal defense lawyer who along with her husband was already a part of Trump’s personal legal team, are also expected to be part of his impeachment defense, another source familiar with the plans said.
The legal team will be led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow.
One source said Bondi will present during oral arguments, along with Cipollone, Sekulow and Dershowitz. The White House received the summons notifying the president of the Senate trial and the charges against him Thursday night, according to a White House official.
The summons requires the president to respond in writing by Saturday evening.
Dershowitz, whose past clients include financier Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein and O.J. Simpson, will likely handle constitutional arguments.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
On Friday morning, Trump tweeted out a quote from Dershowitz’s appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Thursday night. The Harvard Law professor criticized a report by the Government Accountability Office that found the White House had broken the law by freezing aid to Ukraine, one of the issues underlying the impeachment articles.
“The GOA got it exactly backwards,” Trump quoted Dershowitz as saying, using an incorrect acronym for the nonpartisan congressional watchdog.
Starr was ousted as president of Baylor University and then resigned as chancellor in 2016 amid an investigation into claims he and school officials mishandled allegations of sexual assault by football players.
An independent investigation found that under Starr’s leadership the school actively discouraged “some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one instance constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.”
The report was especially surprising given Starr’s history. Starr was best known as the special counsel investigating a real estate deal involving the Clintons that morphed into an investigation into whether the president had an affair with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. Starr unearthed salacious details about the affair, and recommended Clinton be impeached for lying under oath about the relationship.
After news of Starr’s addition to the Trump legal broke, Lewinsky, now an anti-bullying advocate, tweeted that “this is definitely an ‘are you f—— kidding me?’ kinda day.”
Both he and Dershowitz represented Epstein as he battled allegations that he’d had sexually abused dozens of teenage girls at his Florida estate.
With their help, Epstein was able to secure a sweetheart deal, pleading guilty to abusing one girl. He served 13 months in a county jail and was allowed to leave for work six days a week.
Dershowitz remained friends with Epstein after his release. One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, sued Dershowitz for defamation last year, saying in the suit that she was victim of sex trafficking and abuse by Epstein over a decade ago and that Dershowitz falsely claimed she had fabricated the accusations.
Her suit alleges that Dershowitz “was also a participant in sex trafficking, including as one of the men to whom Epstein lent out Plaintiff for sex.”
Dershowitz has adamantly denied the allegations.
“I’ve never met Virginia Giuffre. I’ve never had sex with her. And the reason I’m saying it is because it’s true,” Dershowitz told reporters in September.
Bondi was mulling an investigation into Trump’s now shuttered Trump University in 2013. Trump’s foundation donated $25,000 to a political group supporting Bondi’s campaign in the same time period, and the probe never formally opened.