Arguing against the impeachment of President Donald Trump, legal expert Alan Dershowitz rejected House Democrats’ articles of impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He dubbed both articles unconstitutional, saying they defy the rule of law.
And, even if former national security adviser John Bolton’s book revelations are true — among them is the contention Trump linked military aid to Ukraine’s pursuit of investigations into political rivals — they, too, do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses, he added.
“Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise of the level of abuse of power or an impeachable offense,” Dershowitz argued before the Senate during the impeachment trial Monday. “That is clear from the history. That is clear from the language of the Constitution. You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using words like quid pro quo and personal benefit.”
Also, any view by House Democrats that impeachment can be defined by the House, regardless of a commission of a crime, would unduly diminish the power of the presidency, he argued.
“This lawless view would place Congress above the law,” Dershowitz said. “It would place Congress above the Constitution. For Congress to ignore the specific words of the Constitution itself, and substitute its own judgments,would be the Congress to do what is it accusing the president of doing, and no one is above the law – not the president and not Congress.”
Vague and open-ended pursuits of impeachment will become political weapons against future presidents, Dershowitz said.
“Abuse of power is an accusation easily leveled by political opponents against controversial presidents,” he said, adding later it should stay a political weapon and not one used for impeaching a duly elected president.
“Abuse of power is a political weapon and it should be leveled against political opponents,” he continued. “Let the public decide.”
Most of Dershowitz’s argument was backed by research into the “wisdom of our founders” who wrote the Constitution and worked to define the high crimes and “misdemeanors” that justify presidential impeachment.
“This is the key point in this impeachment case – please understand what I am arguing: Is that purely non-criminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are outside the range of impeachment conduct,” Dershowitz stressed. “That is the key argument I am presenting today.”
Dershowitz argues abuse of power is a “vague and open-ended term” and not a statutory law of the United States.
“Other high crimes and misdemeanors must be akin to treason and bribery,” Dershowitz told the Senate, or “criminal-like conduct akin to treason or bribery,” he added.
Treason and bribery were not mentioned in the House Democrats’ articles of impeachment against Trump.