Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ken Starr and Brett Kavanaugh: Where Hypocrisy and Karma Collide

by Nomad

On Sunday, former independent counsel, Kenneth Starr appeared on CNN to offer his two cents on the sexual assault allegations against  SCOTUS-nominee Kavanaugh. 

The claims were, he said, an "unfortunate, serious allegation." (Unfortunate, but for whom?)
He was outraged by the timing of the leaked report and how the whole thing was handled. Furthermore, to his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, Starr said:
"You had your opportunity to come forward and you failed to do that year after year after year."
In fact, Starr knows very well that Maryland has no statute of limitations for any felony sex crime. And as the Washington Post pointed out, the chronology of the disclosure offers"a perfectly plausible explanation for that delay."
According to Starr, the sordid charges should not be brought up by the Democrats because..
"it's too late for there to be any serious consideration at this stage."
With the confirmation still ongoing, any allegation should be investigated prior to the vote. Apparently, like Rudy Giuliani, Ken Starr thinks the law is something that you make up as you go along until somebody can prove you wrong.

Actually, Kenneth Starr's intrusion into the Kavanaugh nomination mess only calls attention to the fact that there is no shortage of both irony and hypocrisy in this fiasco.   

Fallen Starr

Let's start with Ken Starr. Back in 2016, Starr was dismissed from his last job under a purple cloud. Since 2010, Starr had been president of the Baylor University, the world’s largest Baptist university.
Everything was kosher and respectable until a Baylor student accused a football player of raping her outside a party near campus. It would be the first of many rape claims.

On Starr’s watch, the school was ultimately accused of failing to respond to rapes or sexual assaults reported by at least six women students from 2009-2016.
At least eight former Baylor football players were accused of violence against women over eight years. Perhaps understandably, the Board of Regents felt that it was time for Starr to go and in May 2016, he was given his pink slip.

Starr had been heavily criticized for trying to hush things up or, at the very least, not doing enough to ensure that the accusations were properly addressed. Parents wanted to know why Starr had put the university's sports department over the safety of their daughters. Why did protecting an accused football player come before protecting a female student?

One of the alleged rape victims, Jasmin Hernandez, opened a lawsuit against the Board and other university officials. She claimed that the university had ignored her attempts to report and to bring the perpetrator to justice.
The lawsuit claims that Hernandez’s mother’s inquiry to the school regarding their mental health services was shot down, saying “they were too busy” to see her daughter. It goes on to say that this happened twice more and that she was told, according to the lawsuit, by academic services that “even if a plane falls on your daughter, there’s nothing we can do to help you.”
(This story in its full glory was covered here at Nomadic Politics.)
In May 2017, another lawsuit was filed by a former Baylor University volleyball player with even more serious charges against Baylor. She alleged that she was gang-raped by as many as eight men in an off-campus apartment in February 2012 as part of a hazing ritual. The complaint states:
“At these parties, the girls would be drugged and gang-raped, or in the words of the football players, ‘trains’ would be run on the girls." 
And it all happened at a Baptist university with sanctimonious Kenneth Starr at the helm.As the op-ed piece in the NYT observed:
Ken Starr was as complicit in the two-year-long silence as anybody in the Baylor athletic department, which makes his current “anguish” seem like little more than P.R.
For this reason, it is especially hypocritical for Ken Starr to materialize on CNN like Marley's ghost, defending Kavanaugh, a man accused of attempted rape in a scenario strikingly similar to the Baylor case.
More importantly, it is a slap in the faces of the women who had the courage to stand up to their rapists and the institution that failed them.

Morally-Outraged Kavanaugh
Of course, Kenneth Starr is by no means a disinterested party in the Kavanaugh nomination. He was twice Kavanaugh's boss. First, when he was solicitor general and after that, while he was overseeing the runaway Whitewater investigation. He played a key role in drafting the Starr Report which urged the impeachment of President Clinton. 

In addition to that, in 1994,  Judge Kavanaugh investigated the suicide of Vince Foster a Deputy White House Counsel in the early months of President Bill Clinton's administration. Kavanaugh compiled about 20,000 documents and wasted millions of taxpayers' money on a crack-pot conspiracy theory that the Clintons had had Foster rubbed out. The final conclusion: Vince Foster committed suicide. In other words, a complete waste of time.
That's a verdict that Trump, only two years ago, refused to accept, calling the discredited theories of foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.”

But where Kavanaugh truly excelled was in the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal.
One recently unearthed memo from Kavanaugh to Starr (dated 15 August 1998) reveals exactly the mentality of the man who wants to be the next Supreme Court Justice.
The subject of the memorandum is "Slack for the President." It reads:
After reflecting this evening, I am strongly opposed to giving the President any "break" in the questioning regarding the details of the Lewinsky relationship unless before his questioning on Monday, he either resigns or (ii) confesses perjury and issues a public apology to you. I have tried hard to bend over backwards and to be fair to him and to think of all reasonable defenses to his pattern of behavior. In the end, I am convinced that there really are none. The idea of going easy on him at the questioning is thus abhorrent to me.
Kavanaugh expresses his disgust at the sheer number of Clinton's wrongful acts and how he had "disgraced his Office and the legal system."
President Clinton, Kavanaugh claims, had committed perjury, lying to his aides and to the American people. He attempted to cover his tracks by "frivolously" citing executive privilege.
He tried to disgrace the independent investigator "with a sustained propaganda campaign that would make Nixon blush."

There should be no mercy for such a president, says Kavanaugh. He should be forced to account for "his pattern of revolting behavior."
[I[n my view, given what we know, the interests of the Office of the President would be best served by our gathering the full facts regarding the actions of this President so that the Congress can decide whether the interests of the Presidency would be best served by having a new President. More to the point: Aren't we failing to fulfill our duty to the American people if we willingly "conspire" with the President in an effort to conceal the true nature of his acts?
The morally-outraged Kavanaugh then lists a series of questions Kenneth Starr should ask Clinton under oath about the exact details of the president's relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

What is striking is how extremely explicit these questions actually are. (Adult material warning.)
According to Kavanaugh, Starr should inquire whether or not Clinton inserted a cigar into Lewinsky's vagina in the Oval Office and whether he used his fingers to stimulate her vagina to bring her to orgasm.
Kavanaugh suggested Starr learn how many times the president had phone sex with Lewinsky and how many times did Clinton have oral sex.
Furthermore, Kavanaugh advised Starr to inquire whether the president's sperm ended up in Monica's mouth or in the sink in the bathroom off the Oval Office. 
And finally, with his curiosity still unsated, Kavanaugh encouraged Starr to ask the president whether or not he masturbated into the trashcan in his secretary's office.

Kavanaugh's interest in the details of Bill Clinton's sexual practices- which, as clearly inappropriate as they were, at least consensual- seem to go beyond lawful evidence gathering. At best, the line of questioning seems aimed at punishing the president through humiliation and at worst, "pervy."

If Kavanaugh is confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice, he will have an excellent opportunity to exercise his ethical imperative to hold the executive branch accountable and to expose the true nature of the president's acts. Will Kavanaugh as a high court justice hold the current president to the same standards as he once held Bill Clinton?
Don't bet on it.
That would be precisely the opposite reason Trump selected Kavanaugh in the first place.