Robert Ray Wanted to Indict Clinton. He Thinks Trump Will Be Vindicated

Robert Ray Wanted to Indict Clinton. He Thinks Trump Will Be Vindicated

WASHINGTON — One of the newest members of President Trump’s defense team, Robert W. Ray, has had pointed words about the highest office in the country: “No person is above the law, even the president of the United States.”

But that was nearly 20 years ago when he succeeded Ken Starr as the independent counsel investigating President Bill Clinton. Mr. Starr is also a late addition to the president’s legal team for the Senate trial, which starts Tuesday.

At the time of those remarks in April 2000, Mr. Ray faced criticism for drawing out the Clinton investigation when many believed he should have been wrapping it up.

Mr. Ray was a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York when he was called to replace Mr. Starr and had plans to indict Mr. Clinton when he left office for the same crimes considered during Mr. Clinton’s impeachment. On his way out of the Oval Office, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Ray struck a deal that would prevent Mr. Clinton from being prosecuted in connection to his affair with Monica Lewinsky, an unpaid White House intern in return for surrendering his law license and paying a $25,000 fine.

After leaving the federal government, Mr. Ray went into private practice and currently works at the New York-based firm Zeichner Ellman & Krause.

In 2006, Mr. Ray turned himself into the police in response to a low-level charge that he was stalking a former girlfriend. A law enforcement official said the case was sealed, suggesting it was most likely dismissed. Mr. Ray declined to comment.

In representing Mr. Trump, Mr. Ray will be working with a goal of a quick Senate trial — the White House has suggested it would last two weeks and “vindicate” the president of accusations that he pressured a foreign ally to personally benefit him.

Mr. Trump is charged with two articles of impeachment — one for abuse of office and the other for obstruction of Congress by preventing witnesses from testifying in defiance of subpoenas.

In November, Mr. Ray said there was not enough evidence to convict Mr. Trump of a crime, calling the Democratic-led House’s legal theory “flawed.” And he praised Mr. Trump’s decision not to send witnesses to the impeachment hearings during a December interview on Fox News.

“The president certainly doesn’t have to aid in the impeachment effort,” Mr. Ray told Fox News. “He’s made a judgment now, and I think that’s probably the right judgment.”

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting from New York. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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