Harvard Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe called out President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, Sunday on Twitter, noting that his opinions seem to evolve depending on who he’s defending.
Dershowitz is on a kind of press junket for the president, defending him in various media appearances. The former lawyer to Jeffrey Epstein is handling Trump’s defense as it pertains to the abuse of power. Dershowitz thinks that charge has no basis in law. In fact, impeachment trials aren’t actually legal proceedings, they’re political proceedings, because the Justice Department claimed that Trump can’t be indicted under the law while he’s president.
As Tribe said, Dershowitz seems to have changed his tune since former President Bill Clinton’s trial in the late 1990s.
“It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty,” Dershowitz told Larry King, Aug 1988.
.@AlanDersh comments on impeachment on Larry King Live, 8/24/98
01:41:04 DERSHOWITZ: “It certainly doesn't have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty.”
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 19, 2020
All Democrats would have to do is deliver quotes from Dershowitz and former independent counsel Ken Starr to humiliate the president’s legal defense.
In an editorial for the Washington Post, Tribe took his argument even further.
“The argument that only criminal offenses are impeachable has died a thousand deaths in the writings of all the experts on the subject, but it staggers on like a vengeful zombie,” Tribe explained. “In fact, there is no evidence that the phrase ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ was understood in the 1780s to mean indictable crimes.”
He explained that there was virtually no federal criminal law even in place when the U.S. Constitution was authored by the founding fathers in 1787. he went on to quote former Virginia Gov. Edmund Randolph, who argued on July 20, 1787, that impeachment powers were important for cases exactly like Trump’s.
“Executive will have great opportunitys (sic) of abusing his power,” Tribe quoted Randolph.
“Even more famously, Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 65 defined ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ as ‘those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.’
He closed by saying that presidents are entitled to sound legal counsel, but they’re not entitled to their own facts.
“The president is entitled to robust legal representation. But his lawyers should not be allowed to use bogus legal arguments to mislead the American public or the senators weighing his fate,” he wrote.