‘You picked the most dangerous possible criteria to serve as a precedent for how we supervise and oversee future presidents…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Harvard Law emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz—currently part of President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team—trashed contemporary legal scholars and left-wing politicians—including Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.—for recklessly tossing out precedent and attempting to “place Congress above the law.”
The revered Dershowitz, who taught some of the Senators sitting in judgment of Trump, said on the Senate floor Monday that the standard of impeachment was not subject to the whims and interpretations of the House of Representatives.
Dershowitz said that then-congressman Gerald Ford, who would go on to succeed President Richard Nixon after his resignation, shared an open-ended philosophy with Waters, the current House Financial Services chair, who shamelessly boasted of campaigning on impeachment more than a year before the July 25 phone call that Democrats ultimately used as their pretense.
“Congressman Gerald Ford, whom I greatly admired, said the following: ‘In the context of an impeachment of justice an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history, etc.—you all know the quote,” Dershowitz said.
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters recently put it more succinctly in the context of a presidential impeachment,” Dershowitz continued, “and here is what she said: ‘Impeachment is whatever Congress says it is. There is no law.’”
Dershowitz soundly rejected that interpretation, saying the charges must be clearly enumerated and defined, unlike those levied against Trump.
Otherwise, “this lawless view would place Congress above the law. It would place Congress above the Constitution,” Dershowitz said.
“For Congress to ignore the specific words of the Constitution itself and substitute its own judgments would be for Congress to do what it is accusing the president of doing,” he said. “And no one is above the law—not the president and not Congress.
Dershowitz, who opposed former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1999 and said he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, said the Democrats’ charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are “dangerous” and “wrong.”
Neither offense is remotely close to an impeachable offense in the context provided by the constitutional framers, he argued.
“I’m sorry, House managers, you just picked the wrong criteria,” he said. “You picked the most dangerous possible criteria to serve as a precedent for how we supervise and oversee future presidents.”
Because of this precedent, he continued, “all future presidents who serve with opposing legislative majorities” now face the “realistic threat” of enduring “vague charges of abuse or obstruction.”
Dershowitz then cited a “long list” of presidents who had been accused of “abuse of power” without being formally impeached. The list included George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, James Polk, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
“Abuse of power” is a “promiscuously deployed” and “vague term” without any real meaning, he said. And now, thanks to the Democrats, it is nothing more than a “political weapon” fit for “campaign rhetoric,” he continued.
Dershowitz clarified that he is nonpartisan in the way he approaches the Constitution, arguing that if Hillary Clinton were on trial, he would defend her, too.
.@AlanDersh: “I would be making the very same constitutional argument, had Hillary Clinton, for whom I voted, had been elected, and a Republican House had voted to impeach her on these unconstitutional grounds” pic.twitter.com/wUSO1VrWWl
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 28, 2020
“Purely non-criminal conduct such as abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are outside the range of impeachable offenses,” Dershowitz said.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.