George Conway explains why it's a terrible idea to give unchecked power to 'a psychologically incapable' president
George Conway (Photo: Screen capture)

In a Washington Post editorial, Washington, D.C. Republican lawyer George Conway went after President Donald Trump's lawyers for the claim that the president can do no wrong.

The claim came from Alan Dershowitz, who has since tried to walk back the claim.

“Your election is in the public interest,” Dershowitz said Wednesday. “And if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

"Like most of the president’s arguments, it’s erroneous," wrote Conway. "But no argument could have presented the issue more starkly to Republican senators: Will they follow their oaths to defend the Constitution and to do impartial justice? Or will they once again show fealty to Trump personally, thereby accepting his conflation of his personal interests with those of the nation?"

Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Mitt Romney (UT) followed up on Dershowitz's comments, asking if the president could have mixed motives, by pressing for the national interest and his own personal interest. Lawyer Patrick Philbin responded: That “cannot possibly be the basis for an impeachable offense."

It wasn't simply the case that Dershowitz proclaimed all presidential actions in the public interest were excusable, it was also Philbin echoing the claim.

Dershowitz has now backed off the claim, saying that he was misquoted and blamed the media for taking him out of context. If he was wrong, then the sentiment was still advocated by Mr. Philbin, who has not backed off the claim.

"For a president psychologically incapable of distinguishing between his own personal interests and the nation’s, that amounts to the ultimate get-out-of-impeachment-free card," wrote Conway. "Trump already believes that 'I have an Article II' — Article II of the Constitution — 'where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.' This self-described very stable genius, he of 'I alone can fix it,' is convinced that his reelection, achieved by whatever means necessary, serves the interests of the country. In short, anything goes."

He called it another example of the way Trump corrupts everyone around him with lies.

"Following the lead of the political aides and allies who came before them, during the past two weeks it has been the lawyers who have debased themselves," Conway continued. "Defying their own obligations of candor to the tribunals before which they appear, they’ve lied to and misled the court of impeachment about the House proceedings and underlying facts, and peddled conspiracy theories about the Russia investigation, and of course about Ukraine and the Bidens."

He explained that it's "simply not true that good motives, when mixed with bad ones" are somehow excused under the law. If a husband breaks into a pharmacy to steal medicine that saves his dying wife, he's still arrested for breaking and entering.

"And corruption, for all the Trump lawyers’ attempt to muddy the waters with tortured interpretations of the Constitution, is what this impeachment is all about," said Conway. "Trump acted with corrupt intent, to damage a political opponent. Testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton seems certain to underscore that point."

He closed by noting that Republican senators are unwilling to consider.

"Which is precisely why Republican senators seem so desperate not to hear it and so willing to entertain a false reading of the Constitution that would effectively render the impeachment clause a nullity. Should they do that, they will have sacrificed their own oaths to protect their own electoral prospects, and the country and the Constitution will have been saddled with a terrible precedent. The Senate will have told Trump that, indeed, he can do whatever he wants," Conway wrote.

Read the full op-ed at the Washington Post.