Donald Trump has named two high-profile attorneys to his impeachment team: Kenneth Starr, who investigated Bill Clinton as independent counsel, and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The additions came on Friday as Mr Trump’s impeachment trial was set to get under way in earnest with opening arguments in the Senate on Tuesday. Robert Ray, who succeeded Mr Starr as independent counsel in the Clinton probe, is also joining the team.
Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, Mr Trump’s lawyer through much of his presidency, including the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, are leading his defence against charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Democrats have accused the president of misusing his office to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into Joe Biden, his possible rival in the 2020 election, as well as claims of Ukrainian interference into the 2016 election. Mr Trump has rejected the claims, arguing the impeachment is a “con job”.
Mr Starr and Mr Dershowitz, both regular contributors on Fox News, are well-known characters from past dramas that transfixed Washington and the nation in the 1990s.
For much of the decade, Mr Starr investigated Mr Clinton in a probe that culminated with the impeachment of the former president for lying about his relations with Monica Lewinsky. Mr Dershowitz was on the celebrity legal team that secured OJ Simpson’s acquittal on murder charges in 1995.
Later, both men represented Jeffrey Epstein when he was prosecuted for sex offences in Florida in the 2000s, helping secure a plea deal that was denounced by the late money manager’s victims as overly lenient.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Mr Dershowitz, the author of The Case Against Impeaching Trump, said he would present oral arguments in the Senate trial “to defend the integrity of the Constitution and to prevent the creation of a dangerous constitutional precedent”.
“While Professor Dershowitz is non partisan when it comes to the constitution — he opposed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and voted for Hillary Clinton — he believes the issues at stake go to the heart of our enduring Constitution,” the statement said.
Earlier this week, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, selected seven House Democrats as impeachment managers to prosecute the case against Mr Trump. They are Adam Schiff of California, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Zoe Lofgren of California, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Val Demings of Florida, Jason Crow of Colorado and Sylvia Garcia of Texas.