Donald Trump adds celebrity lawyer and investigator of Bill Clinton's affair to trial defence team

Ben Riley-Smith
Donald Trump's presidency is on the line in the Senate impeachment trial - AFP

Donald Trump has unexpectedly added the lawyer who helped get OJ Simpson cleared and the man who investigated Bill Clinton’s White House affair to his defence team for the Senate impeachment trial. 

Alan Dershowitz, the former, is one of America’s best-known celebrity lawyers, having represented boxer Mike Tyson, billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. 

Ken Starr is a conservative hero who as special prosecutor probed Mr Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, ultimately triggering the then US president’s impeachment. His ‘Starr Report’ contained graphic details of their sexual encounters. 

Both men have made regular appearances on Fox News, Mr Trump’s favourite cable news channel, in recent years as the threat of impeachment hung over the US president, often making arguments backing him up. 

US media outlets widely reported the addition of both men to Mr Trump’s legal team on Friday along with a third, Robert Ray, who helped investigate Mr Clinton’s presidency, including the so-called Whitewater scandal. 

Alan Dershowitz is one of America's best known celebrity lawyers  Credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The appointments appeared to be an attempt to underscore similarities with the Clinton impeachment, which happened in the late 1990s and ultimately saw him remain in office. 

Democrats back then argued Mr Clinton was the victim of a partisan campaign to remove him from office on flimsy grounds - exactly what Republicans are now arguing about Mr Trump. 

The appointments also suggest that the US president, ever alive to how political events play out on television, wanted to boost the rhetorical firepower of those making his case before the Senate. 

The man leading Mr Trump’s legal team, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, rarely speaks on the record and does not make television appearances. 

The president has reportedly expressed concern behind closed doors that his case will not be put forward as forthrightly as he wants, given millions of voters will be watching on. 

Mr Trump has considered putting his ardent defenders in the House of Representatives, such as congressmen Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, on the team but has held back so far.

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The trial into whether Mr Trump should be removed from office over the Ukraine scandal begins in earnest on Tuesday, when Democratic congressmen will argue their case. 

Then Mr Trump’s legal team will put forward his defence. The 100 US senators, listening on as a silent jury, will ultimately decide. At least 67 votes are needed to remove him, a high bar. 

A statement shared by Mr Dershowitz shortly after the news broke said he would “present oral arguments at the Senate trial to address the constitutional arguments against impeachment and removal”. 

Mr Dershowitz was part of the legal team which got Mr Simpson, an American football star, acquitted of murder in one of the most famous trials in modern US history.  

His appointment has raised eyebrows because he is currently locked in a legal battle over claims made by one of the alleged victims of Epstein, who died in jail while facing multiple allegations of sexual assault. 

Virginia Giuffre, the woman who claims to have had sex with Prince Andrew, has also accused Mr Dershowitz of sexual assault and sued him. Mr Dershowitz, who has fiercely denied the allegation, has counter-sued. The cases are on-going.

Ms Lewinsky, the White House intern with whom Mr Clinton had an affair, appeared to respond to the news of Mr Starr’s appointment, tweeting: “This is definitely an ‘are you f****** kidding me?’ kinda day.”

Mr Trump, however, appeared to be in a jovial mood as he hosted the US college football champions in the White House. 

“A lot of presidents, some good, some not so good,” Mr Trump said at one point, discussing past occupants of the Oval Office.

“You’ve got a good one now, even though they’re trying to impeach the son of a b****!” he added, referring to himself. The joke was met with laughter in the room.