On MSNBC Saturday, a panel of legal experts tore into former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz's argument that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense, which anchor Joy Reid played for them in a clip.
"You cannot make any sense out of it. It is an absurd comment," said former federal prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, to laughter around the table. "It is the standard by which we have impeached in the past. If you listen to the witnesses at the House, three out of four said that is an impeachable offense. The articles against Richard Nixon included abuse of power. It is clearly what was intended by our framers. It's what the Federalist Papers say, and it's the thing that makes sense. Other high crimes and misdemeanors are exactly that. It isn't under the federal statutes that they were talking about. Bribery isn't under the federal statute because there was no federal bribery crime when the Constitution was passed. It was whatever people thought it was."
Civil rights activist and former police watchdog Maya Wiley concurred.
"Andrew Johnson ... was being impeached for abuse of power. There was no criminal offense underlying his impeachment. So that's number one," said Wiley. "But the second is, I want to pull out an argument that Alan Dershowitz made during the Mueller probe, which was that even if Donald Trump went to Putin when he was a candidate and said, 'Hey, Putin, you know what, I'd be a great president for you, because I don't agree with sanctions against Russia, I don't agree with the Magnitsky Act, so look, you help me, I help you, we're good.' Alan Dershowitz wrote that that would not be impeachable."
"So when you hear him make this argument, he is literally saying that even if everything Mueller found he could prove in a court of law, Donald Trump would not be impeachable!" said Wiley to another round of laughter.