Ken Starr: Justice Department should evaluate claims by Stormy Daniels

Former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who famously investigated Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky, said he believes that Stormy Daniels’s allegations that she was paid $130,000 during the 2016 election to keep silent about an alleged affair with President Trump raise “difficult and serious” issues that need to be evaluated by the Justice Department to determine if another special counsel should be appointed.

Starr made his comments — his first on the Stormy Daniels controversy since the porn star went public with her latest claims last Sunday on “60 Minutes” — during an exclusive interview on the Yahoo News’ podcast “Skullduggery.”

“That’s a serious question,” Starr replied when asked if Daniels’s claims about a payoff should be investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller to determine if the money she received from Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, constituted an illegal campaign contribution. “What did the president know? Did he authorize it? All those things have to be sorted out.”

But Starr said he believes that the issues at play are sufficiently far afield from the matters at the core of Mueller’s investigation that they should be handled by others in the Justice Department.

“This becomes an issue for Rod Rosenstein,” Starr said, referring to the deputy attorney general who is in charge of the Mueller probe and who served on Starr’s staff during the Whitewater probe. “But Rod may very well say [to Mueller], ‘You need to stick to the issue. Let’s  get through with this issue of collusion. You  stick to that and lets now appoint [somebody else] as special counsel.’”

RELATED: A look at Stormy Daniels

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Porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had a yearlong affair with Trump
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Porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had a yearlong affair with Trump
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 21: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2017 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 21: Actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the 2017 Adult Video News Awards held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 18: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels appears at the Wicked Pictures booth at the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 18, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 18: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels appears at the Wicked Pictures booth at the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 18, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 23: Adult film actor/musician Brendon Miller (L) and his wife, adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels, attend the 2016 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 23: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2016 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the 2016 XBIZ Awards held at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on January 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 22: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels poses at the Wicked Pictures booth at the 2015 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 22, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 22: Adult film actresses/directors jessica drake (L) and Stormy Daniels pose at the Wicked Pictures booth at the 2015 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 22, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - MAY 03: Stormy Daniels attends Exxxotica 2014 on May 3, 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 16: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels attends the 2014 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 16, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 16: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels attends the 2014 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 16, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the Sapphire Pool & Day Club grand opening party on May 5, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)
CENTURY CITY, CA - JANUARY 11: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels and adult film actor Brendon Miller arrive for the 2013 XBIZ Awards held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on January 11, 2013 in Century City, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
CENTURY CITY, CA - JANUARY 11: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the 2013 XBIZ Awards held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on January 11, 2013 in Century City, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 20: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels appears during an autograph signing for Wicked Pictures at the 2012 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino January 20, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 21: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels (L), and her husband, adult film actor Brendon Miller, arrive at the 29th annual Adult Video News Awards Show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino January 21, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 20: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels appears during an autograph signing for Wicked Pictures at the 2012 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino January 20, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 03: Stormy Daniels (R) arrives at Jet Nightclub at The Mirage on October 3, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
Musician Dave Navarro and actress Stormy Daniels arrive at the premiere 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' at the Grauman's Chinese Theater on April 10, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 10: Musician Dave Navarro and actress Stormy Daniels arrive at the premiere 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' at the Grauman's Chinese Theater on April 10, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Stormy Daniels arrives at the 50th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on February 10, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Gabriel BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Actress Stormy Daniels arrives to the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards at the Staples Center on February 10, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 12: Actress Stormy Daniels arrives at a naughty night to remember at TAO Nightclub at The Venetian Hotel and Casino Resort on January 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Farina/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 12: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels (L) and radio talk show host Bubba the Love Sponge arrive at the 25th annual Adult Video News Awards Show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center January 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 13: Stormy Daniels attends 'Superbad' Premiere Los Angeles - Arrivals at Mann's Chinese Theatre on August 13, 2007 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - AUGUST 13: Actress Stormy Daniels attends the premiere of Superbad at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on August 13, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Stormy Daniels during 'Knocked Up' Los Angeles Premiere - Red Carpet at Mann's Village Theater in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for Variety Magazine)
Stormy Daniels during 'Knocked Up' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Stormy Daniels and Gerard Butler (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
Stormy Daniels during GQ Magazine Celebrates Heineken Premium Light at Les Deux in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by M. Tran/FilmMagic)
Ron Jeremy and Stormy Daniels during Ron Jeremy Birthday Bash Hosted by Stormy Daniels in Association with Penthouse and Esterman - March 10, 2007 at Element in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Enos Solomon/FilmMagic)
Ron Jeremy and Stormy Daniels (Photo by Enos Solomon/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 13: Dieter Esch, head of Wilhelmina Models (L), and adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrive at the 24th annual Adult Video News Awards Show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center January 13, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 13: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the 24th annual Adult Video News Awards Show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center January 13, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Stormy Daniels (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 2: Socialite Stormy Daniels attends the Grand Opening of An Original Penguin on November 2, 2006 Hollywood, California. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 2: Socialite Stormy Daniels attends the Grand Opening of An Original Penguin on November 2, 2006 Hollywood, California. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images)
Stormy Daniels during 'The Bliss' Los Angeles Screening - Arrivals at Cinespace in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 28: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels presents a creation by Junker Designs during a fashion show debuting the company's new collection at the Rainbow Bar & Grill as part of the MAGIC convention August 28, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Stormy Daniels (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Stormy Daniels (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
LAS VEGAS - JUNE 03: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the first annual Head to Hollywood Celebrity Charity Poker Tournament and Auction at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino June 3, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The charity, founded by actress Carmen Electra and Us Weekly editor Ken Baker, provides brain tumor survivors and their families a VIP celebrity experience in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Actresss Stormy Daniels arrives to the Sheila and Lynn Marbry's Elevate Hope Foundation 'Circle of Passion' pre-Oscar benefit event at the Pacific Design Center Sunday evening. (Photo by Axel Koester/Corbis via Getty Images)
Actresses Stormy Daniels (R) and Kristen Price arrive to the Sheila and Lynn Marbry's Elevate Hope Foundation 'Circle of Passion' pre-Oscar benefit event at the Pacific Design Center Sunday evening. (Photo by Axel Koester/Corbis via Getty Images)
Jose Canseco and Stormy Daniels during Guy's North in Studio City Grand Opening - Red Carpet and Inside at Guys North in Studio City, California, United States. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage for BWR Public Relations)
Pornstar, Stormy Daniels AKA Stormy Waters during Missy Elliot Hosts Yahoo! Music's Exclusive Grammy After Party at Mood in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by Derek Bauer/FilmMagic)
Stormy Daniels and Jose Canseco during Yahoo! Music and Missy Elliot Post-Grammy Event at Mood in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by M. Phillips/WireImage for Strategic Group)
Stormy Daniels AKA Stormy Waters, Wicked Contract Performer (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 10: Dave Navarro and Stormy Daniels attend The Universal Pictures Premiere of Forgetting Sarah Marshall at Graumans Chinese Theatre on April 10, 2008 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 27: Comedian Dane Cook with Stormy Daniels attend a signing for his new CD/DVD 'Retaliation' at Tower Records on July 27, 2005 in Hollywood California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 27: Stormy Daniels attends a signing for Comedian Dane Cook's new CD/DVD 'Retaliation' at Tower Records on July 27, 2005 in Hollywood California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
Angel Cassiday and Stormy Daniels AKA Stormy Waters (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
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Starr emphasized that he is not recommending a conclusion — only that the issues raised by Daniels’s allegations be reviewed. “As in law school, I’m issue-spotting and discussing the kind of things that Rod Rosenstein would probably sit down with the attorney general” and raise. “He’d take that elevator from the fourth floor [of the Justice Department] to the fifth floor and say, ‘Gen. Sessions, we need to talk and this is the issue of the day.’’

Daniels’s allegations have “to be considered and assessed,” he added. It would be “the equivalent of a preliminary investigation. That’s the way these things are done.”

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More broadly, however, Starr spoke of how dismayed he is about the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump. But he stressed what he clearly views as the more serious questions he faced as independent counsel, when he learned about Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky, a subpoenaed witness in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit.

“I think questions of presidential character are always important,” Starr said when asked about the multiple women who have accused Trump of unsolicited sexual advances and other misconduct. “They are endurably important. To say this is disappointing behavior — if true — is an understatement. It’s very upsetting.”

“But that doesn’t trigger the law,” Starr said, drawing a distinction between the allegations against Trump and those against Clinton. “The reason we went to the attorney general with respect to the Monica Lewinsky phase of the investigation is because under  the information we had — I’m just going to go ahead and say it … the  concern we had was subordination of perjury in a civil case. Now we had four years of background. … I’ll just  say there were questions throughout the [Whitewater] investigation about the credibility of the president and the first lady [Hillary Clinton] all along the way. I’m just going to leave it at that.”

So once his office had authenticated tapes by Linda Tripp suggesting that Lewinsky was being encouraged to lie, Starr said, “we then made a beeline across Pennsylvania Avenue to the attorney general of the United States [Janet Reno]. And she then assessed the information and she made the determination — just read the charge — that these were serious felonies. So we’re talking about the rule of law, possible violations of federal criminal law — and not just about questions of character, presidential character.”

For all his criticism of Trump, Starr did not rule out entertaining a request to join the president’s depleted legal team in the unlikely event that such an offer was made.

“Hah, I’ve not been asked and I don’t expect to be asked given the various things I have said,” Starr said when asked if would help represent the president in the Mueller investigation. “I think you guys know me. I would listen respectfully and assess the situation. … All you’re going to get from me is that I have great respect for the presidency of the United States and I would certainly listen with respect to a telephone call that will not come.”

RELATED: Women who have been linked to Donald Trump

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Women Donald Trump has been linked to
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Women Donald Trump has been linked to

Headlines have been swarming about an alleged affair between the president and pornstar Stormy Daniels. 

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

According to Newsweek, Candice Bergen went on a date with Trump in the 1960s. 

 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Actress and model Anna Nicole Smith is rumored to have been intimate with Donald Trump.

  REUTERS/Fred Prouser FSP/HB

 Carla Bruni reportedly dated the president-to-be in 1991.  (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

Model Ingrid Seynhaeve is rumored to have been intimate with Donald J. Trump in 1997.

Photo Credit:Getty

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But as if to ensure that such a call never does come, Starr made no secret of his disapproval of Trump’s persistent attacks on the Mueller investigation and the Justice Department itself.

“I think it likely is unprecedented,” Starr said of Trump’s lack of respect for the independence of the Justice Department. “I certainly hope so, and I hope it’s never revived. I hope we don’t have the beginning of a new tradition. Because at the end of the day, we have to live by the rule of law. And these kinds of tweets and attacks and so forth are very corrosive of the rule of law. I’ve been very consistent in saying that. And yes, it’s troubling. As I said in the Washington Post, ‘Cut it out, Mr. President.’ But he’s not listening to me.”

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