Late last week, reports emerged that controversial lawyer Alan Dershowitz, whose past clients have included O.J. Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein, would be joining President Donald Trump’s defense team for his upcoming impeachment trial. Now, Dershowitz has already begun to face harsh criticism for his belligerent behavior, including during an appearance this weekend on CNN’s State of the Union with guest host Brianna Keillar. Fellow panelist Jeffrey Toobin issued the intense accusation that Dershowitz was just trying to “elevate himself” with his work for the president and thereby stepping out of line. That kind of exaggerated ego would definitely fit well around the president.
Dershowitz had been arguing that, in his description, “abuse of power” is not an impeachable offense. (The House’s impeachment case against Trump includes charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.) Although the Constitution essentially leaves the determination of impeachable offenses straightforwardly up to Congress, the best Dershowitz could come up with is to come up with a new arbitrary standard for the process — which, of course, allows for Trump to escape accountability, if it’s applied.
‘I am a member of the legal team and I am making what could be the most important argument on the floor of the Senate, namely that even if everything that is alleged by the House managers is proven or taken as true, they would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. I will be paraphrasing the successful argument from Justice Benjamin Curtis in the trial of Andrew Jackson back in the 1860s where he argued that the framers intended for impeachable conduct to only be criminal-like conduct or the conduct that is prohibitive by the criminal law.’
Besides — to say that criminal law has changed over the last more than two centuries since the establishment of the Constitution would be an understatement, at best. Dershowitz’s argument seems like claiming that the Constitution’s grant to Congress of power to regulate commerce only applies to vegetables and other items that existed in the 1780s. It’s desperately ridiculous.
‘Isn’t what you are doing, Alan, is to try to elevate yourself beyond being a lawyer as sort of the neutral expert? But you are just a lawyer, and there is nothing wrong with that, but you are a lawyer representing a client?’
In other words — the idea is that Dershowitz was trying to pretend like he’s not just in it for the political expedience and/or a quick buck, although he’s claimed he’ll donate any money that he’s paid to charity.
‘I am just a lawyer and I have done it dozens of times and been of counsel solely on the constitutional issue, and that is that I present the constitutional issue, but I am not involved in the day-to-day issues.’
He will work on the president’s team alongside members including former independent counsel Ken Starr, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and others.
Starr, of course, led the impeachment charge against Bill Clinton, while Bondi’s Trump connections include a suspiciously at best timed donation that she got from Trump, which preceded her decision while in office to drop an investigation into one of his scams.