Ken Starr, former independent counsel who investigated former U.S. President Bill Clinton, speaks during an American Enterprise Institute event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Starr discussed the Constitution's role in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg
Ken Starr played a prominent role in the last presidential impeachment — that of Bill Clinton © Al Drago/Bloomberg

Donald Trump has turned to the lawyer who led the effort to unseat Bill Clinton two decades ago as part of a heavyweight legal team to defend him at his own impeachment trial in the Senate next week.

The US president appointed Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Mr Clinton, according to a person briefed on his legal team.

He also appointed Robert Ray, who succeeded Mr Starr as independent counsel in the Clinton probe, and Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who successfully defended Claus von Bulow and OJ Simpson in murder trials that gripped the US.

Mr Trump’s trial is set to begin with opening arguments in the Senate on Tuesday. Democrats have accused him of misusing his office to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination.

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, a White House intern at the time.

Monica Lewinsky tweet - presumably in response to Ken Starr news
© Twitter

Both men also 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.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, this week 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.

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