In tweets posted early Thursday morning, famed attorney Alan Dershowitz blasted Democrats and their media allies for distorting and lying about remarks he’d made while speaking before the Senate in President Donald Trump’s defense a day earlier.
Dershowitz, a member of the president’s legal team, had argued Wednesday that if, in the course of dutifully performing his job and upholding the “public interest,” a president performs an act that incidentally also allegedly winds up boosting his chance of reelection, that act cannot be reasonably construed as a crime.
Pres. Trump’s counsel Alan Dershowitz: “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.” https://t.co/8eDXJbxaT6 pic.twitter.com/SXR2Ms69Mi
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 29, 2020
“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,” he said before going on to cite a historical example involving former President Abraham Lincoln.
The words he spoke wound up going viral and triggering an avalanche of outrage from liberal Democrats in Congress and the media who claimed he’d been making the case that it’s not an impeachable offense for a president to commit a crime while trying to get reelected.
Observe just a sliver of the outrage below:
House impeachment manager Jason Crow on Alan Dershowitz’s “public interest” argument on presidential power: “If you follow all of that logic, it would make the President above the law. I’m very confident that’s not what our framers intended” https://t.co/dp3I4VVsWw pic.twitter.com/Xr0m9KoH6F
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 30, 2020
Sen. Chuck Schumer calls Alan Dershowitz’s argument that a quid pro quo done in belief it’s “in the public interest” is not impeachable “a load of nonsense.”
— ABC News (@ABC) January 30, 2020
ALAN DERSHOWITZ SAYS RE-ELECTION ACTIONS NOT IMPEACHABLE: The co-hosts react to the Trump impeachment attorney arguing that a quid pro quo done in belief it’s “in the public interest” is not impeachable conduct. https://t.co/z7k8OC4pV0 pic.twitter.com/ODaxhiGNtV
— The View (@TheView) January 30, 2020
Video: @CNN‘s @JoeLockhart says the argument made on the Senate floor by @AlanDersh was “un-American” and “what you hear from” Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin along w/other authoritians “who rationalized, you know, in some cases, genocide based on what was in the public interest.” pic.twitter.com/Ut2Htd0nbm
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 30, 2020
— Connect the World (@CNNConnect) January 30, 2020
Trump attorney @AlanDersh said Wednesday that the president could take any action to boost his re-election chances if he felt it was in the public interest. “No responsible constitutional scholar in two centuries agrees,” says @neal_katyal. “It’s just a ridiculous argument.” pic.twitter.com/Omg8FuauSo
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) January 30, 2020
But according to Dershowitz, the very premise behind all this outrage is patently false.
“They characterized my argument as if I had said that if a president believes that his re-election was in the national interest, he can do anything. I said nothing like that, as anyone who actually heard what I said can attest,” he wrote in tweets Thursday.
“I did not say or imply that a candidate could do anything to reassure his reelection, only that seeking help in an election is not necessarily corrupt, citing the Lincoln and Obama examples. Critics have an obligation to respond to what I said, not to create straw men to attack.”
As an example, take the president’s attempt last year to prod Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into launching an investigation into 2020 contender former Vice President Joe Biden. Had that investigation been launched, it would have admittedly boosted Trump’s reelection chances by harming Biden’s image. However, that doesn’t negate the claim that the request was made out of concern for America’s interests.
Or, as Dershowitz put it, the fact that an investigation into Biden would have coincidentally boosted Trump’s reelection chances “is not necessarily corrupt.”
Taking advantage of the fact most of their viewers didn’t actually hear the senate Q and A, CNN, MSNBC and some other media willfully distorted my answers. More to Come
— Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) January 30, 2020
I did not say or imply that a candidate could do anything to reassure his reelection, only that seeking help in an election is not necessarily corrupt, citing the Lincoln and Obama examples. Critics have an obligation to respond to what I said, not to create straw men to attack.
— Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) January 30, 2020
The only way it would be corrupt is if it could be proven without a shadow of a doubt that Trump’s goal had not been to protect the “public interest” but rather specifically to boost his chances going into the 2020 race.
However, Democrats haven’t established this, and that’s the point the famed attorney was trying to convey.
Could he have been clearer with his words? Definitely, argues David Marcus of The Federalist.
Imagine for instance if Dershowitz had said this: “If a president does something in the public interest which he suspects may help him get elected, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”
That would have admittedly been far clearer. Nevertheless, his argument still stands, according to Marcus.
“Dershowitz is not saying that the president could kill a political rival and it wouldn’t be impeachable if he thought that killing was in the national interest,” he wrote. “First of all, murder is a crime, and there is no crime alleged in the impeachment, which lies at the heart of Dershowitz’s broader constitutional argument.”
“What Dershowitz is saying is that when a president is faced with a lawful policy choice that may benefit him politically, he is not barred from making that choice on the basis that it could help him. Politicians do this all the time.”
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