Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law professor emeritus and member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, said Sunday that he believes House managers’ case fell short of the standard that is needed to convict President Donald Trump in the Senate’s impeachment trial.
“Even if the factual allegations are true—which are highly disputed and which the defense team will show contrary evidence—but even if true, they did not allege impeachable offenses. So there can’t be a constitutionally authorized impeachment,” Dershowitz, a high-profile criminal attorney, told “Fox News Sunday.”
He added that the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges levied against Trump are vague criteria. No president in U.S. history has been successfully removed from office, as the Senate requires a 67-vote supermajority to convict.
“The conduct has to be criminal in nature. It can’t be abuse of power; it can’t be obstruction of Congress,” he said. “Those are precisely the arguments that the framers rejected.”
The Democratic House managers, led by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), spent around 20 hours making arguments over three days last week, saying Trump abused his office when he allegedly withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for what Democrats have said were investigations into a political rival. Trump and Ukrainian officials have denied the charges.
“Remember the Constitution requires treason—there’s no treason. Bribery, there’s no allegation of bribery. Other high crimes and misdemeanors, which means other high crimes and misdemeanors that are akin to treason and bribery. They completely failed to meet that high constitutional standard, and therefore it would be unconstitutional to remove a president based on the allegations that were made against him in the articles of impeachment,” Dershowitz said in the interview.
Dershowitz and other members of Trump’s legal team are scheduled to elaborate more on their arguments against impeachment. The White House on Saturday offered a three-hour glimpse of things to come starting on Monday and ending Tuesday.
“The defense team tomorrow will show that it’s not true, that many of the issues that were presented” by House Democrats were “presented incompletely,” he told Fox. “Remember, there are three things that the Senate has to decide: One, is there sufficient evidence of what they claim? Two, does it constitute a high—does it constitute, first of all, an abuse of power? And third, does abuse of power constitute impeachable offenses?”
Amid the impeachment inquiry, several Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, stated they felt no pressure from Trump and denied Democratic allegations of a quid pro quo campaign. Trump’s legal team sought to highlight this on Saturday.
“The best evidence that there was no pressure or ‘quid pro quo’ is the statements of the Ukrainians themselves,” Mike Purpura, deputy counsel to Trump, told the Senate on Saturday. “The fact that President Zelensky himself felt no pressure on the call and did not perceive there to be any connection between security assistance and investigations would, in any ordinary case, in any court, be totally fatal to the prosecution.”
And in the opening salvo fired by Trump’s team on Saturday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said senators should allow voters to decide the next election in 10 months.
“They’re asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election, but they’re asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in an election that’s occurring in approximately nine months. They’re asking you to tear up all of the ballots across this country, on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people,” he remarked, referring to House Democrats.
Cipollone appeared to be responding to a remark during Schiff’s opening statement, during which he said that Trump’s alleged misdeeds can’t be decided by voters.
“Impeachment exists for cases in which the misconduct of the president rises beyond mere policies and disputes to be decided otherwise and without urgency at the ballot box,” Schiff said.