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Dershowitz: “Nothing in the Bolton revelations … would rise to the level of … an impeachable offense”

Dershowitz: “Nothing in the Bolton revelations … would rise to the level of … an impeachable offense”

“That is clear from the history. That is clear from the language of the Constitution.”

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Alan Dershowitz tore apart the allegations in former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s new book that Trump told him to withhold aid to Ukraine in exchange for political favors.

Dershowitz listed actions by other presidents that one would consider actual abuse of power.

From Fox News:

“I’m sorry, House managers, you just picked the wrong criteria. You picked the most dangerous possible criteria to serve as a precedent for how we supervise and oversee future presidents,” Dershowitz told the House Democrats, including head House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

He said that “all future presidents who serve with opposing legislative majorities” now face the “realistic threat” of enduring “vague charges of abuse or obstruction,” and added that a “long list of presidents” have previously been accused of “abuse of power” in various contexts without being formally impeached.

The list included George Washington, who refused to turn over documents related to the Jay Treaty; John Adams, who signed and enforced the so-called “Alien and Sedition” law; Thomas Jefferson, who flat-out purchased Louisiana without any kind of congressional authorization whatosever; John Tyler, who notoriously used and abused the veto power; James Polk, who allegedly disregarded the Constitution and usurped the role of Congress; and Abraham Lincoln, who suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and others would also probably face impeachment using the Democrats’ rules, Dershowitz said.

“Abuse of power,” he continued, has proved a “promiscuously deployed” term throughout history — and should remain a “political weapon,” not a legal instrument to take out a president.

He further suggested that the “rule of lenity,” or the legal doctrine that ambiguities should be resolved in favor of defendants, also counseled toward acquitting the president. The Constitution permits impeachment and removal of presidents for “treason,” “bribery,” and “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but does not clearly define the terms.

“Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power, or an impeachable offense,” Dershowitz said. “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 terms like ‘quid pro quo’ and ‘personal benefit.'”

“It is inconceivable,” Dershowitz said, that the framers would have intended such “politically loaded terms” and “subjective'” words without clear definitions to serve as the basis for impeachment.


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His textual reasoning doesn’t make sense, but the principle that we have to avoid a parliamentary system is a good test for the Senate to apply.

“The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury.” This demonstrated, according to Curtis, that impeachment requires a crime.

Not true. There would be impeachment without a crime, and impeachment with a crime, and in the latter case it isn’t tried by jury. Nothing said about the former. You can’t use it to prove that a crime is required for impeachment.

Is that sort of slip common with distinguished Constitutional scholars?

Basically, what he says is that the House is trying to use this impeachment to forever castrate the Executive Branch. The next push will be to take the courts back as well. It’s a good thing that Trump is the guy they chose to attack. Romney or McCain would have been impeached too and never survived.

    fast182 in reply to DanJ1. | January 28, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Any republican would have surrendered long before it got to this point. Romney would have unilaterally surrendered before even being asked.

    DaveGinOly in reply to DanJ1. | January 28, 2020 at 10:04 am

    The Dems were hoping that the mere repetition of “Russia, Russia, Russia,” before and during the Mueller investigation, would result in DJT’s resignation. You’d think they would have learned something about the man by his obstinate refusal to be intimidated by them.

Dershowitz asked repeatedly “what’s the crime?” Okay, contempt of Congress, “what’s the crime?” Abuse of power for personal and political gain, again “what’s the crime?” I don’t recall the specific word he used in his example – possibly dishonesty – the point was that dishonesty is a “sin, not a crime.” The power of words.

    mailman in reply to Owego. | January 28, 2020 at 10:53 am

    We are still waiting for the crimes (because the ones the Democrats thought they had they didn’t bother using for impeachment).

    Remember, giving Democrats the shits ISNT a crime (well…not yet anyway).

    healthguyfsu in reply to Owego. | January 28, 2020 at 11:36 am

    I say we fire every political creature that has ever been dishonest. We will soon have a very empty DC.

    BobM in reply to Owego. | January 28, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    I think mr. D’s point was that IF an actual factual chargeable specific CRIME had been committed, it should have been mentioned in the articles. It wasn’t. Therefore the House Dems have already conceded that they failed to find one. Therefore he had an excellent point, that unless you WANT our govt to be transformed into a parliamentary system, where the executive serves at the pleasure of the legislature and can be removed from office at their whim, this level of vagueness is either an unconstitutional attempt to emasculate ALL future presidents without going to the bother of amending the constitution, or an unconstitutional attempt to emasculate the ability of voters to pick presidents and presidential policies the current legislature doesn’t like.

    Either way, unconstitutional.

Dershowitz’s presentation excelled in providing historical comparisons, and his points were well-taken with regard to which presidents would have been properly subjected to impeachment if the standard which the dems propose was the correct standard — basically, every president.

Yes, Pres. Washington withheld docs.
Yes, Pres. Jefferson purchased Louisiana from France without authorization from Congress.
And you can go on and on and on….

The history fascinated me — I always enjoy hearing the nitty gritty of our past….

Excellent legal analysis and excellent historical perspective.

Also, the GOP would be well-advised to finally learn from the dems. I mean, 60 years late is better than never: Never be afraid to BREAK NEW GROUND IN THE SUBJUGATION OF YOUR ENEMIES.

Now, I admit although I would like to learn this lesson myself, I find it very contrary to my nature and it’s plainly contrary to the GOP’s nature as well. But we need to resolve to change and improve ourselves in this regard, or millions upon millions will suffer because of our failure.

It’s time to take names and kick ass.

It all reminds me of a Harlem Globetrotters game. The Globetrotters antics depend on the cooperation of the hapless Generals. If instead the Generals put on a full-court press, body checked them in 1 on 1 defense, the Globetrotters would be forced to play the game by the rules. But no, the Generals just stand there mesmerized and wholly complicit.

The Bolton play is like that ball-on-a-rubberband trick the Trotters used to do.

Quid-pro-quo is NOT in the articles of impeachment. Russia! Russia! Russia! is NOT in the articles of impeachment. Bolton’s testimony is NOT in the Dems case.

So why now if they want Bolton, doesn’t someone ask the Dems “would you like to withdraw your articles of impeachment, go back to the House and reconvene your investigation, call Bolton and rewrite your articles?” Or simply say to the Dems “you can pursue Bolton’s testimony back in the house after we dispatch the 2 articles and evidence you’ve brought before us”.

NPR host this morning made the comment that Senator Warren, “also a Harvard Law professor” disagreed with Dershowitz. Like she is on the same level here as the professor. She couldn’t lick his shoes at Harvard.

has anyone answered the question why does Bolton not work for Trump anymore? might be why the book says what it does

This seems pretty useless. About like giving a carefully-reasoned argument to a bunch of moth larvae about why they shouldn’t eat your sweaters.