This is the argument the Senate – and the country – needed to hear.
Day 2 of President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense Monday brought famed attorney Alan Deshowitz to explain the kind of assault on the Constitution that characterizes the Democratic impeachment attempt on the grounds of “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.”
And he used some of the biggest names in American history to do it.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 28, 2020
Going back to the earliest days of the Republic, Dershowitz noted that presidents beginning with George Washington could have faced impeachment under the loose, patently unconstitutional standards being used by Democrats in the 21st century.
The self-acknowledged supporter of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2016 election, stressed to the senators that impeachment was a remedy established by the Founders for behavior so extreme it was beyond the normal boundaries of politics in a democracy.
From Washington and fellow Founders Thomas Jefferson and John Adams through Republicans like Abraham Lincoln and Democrats like Franklin Roosevelt, Dershowitz said, presidents have been accused by political opponents of abusing their power — however, the answer was not in a radical impeachment drive, but in working for their defeat in constitutional elections.
“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 said.
Naturally, thanks to a conveniently timed leak to The New York Times (the anti-Trump “newspaper of record”), Dershowitz was forced to address the story that former National Security Adviser John Bolton has written a book that supports Democratic charges that Trump abused his power by withholding military aid to the country of Ukraine by demanding it investigate corruption allegations that could involve former Vice President Joe Biden.
As Dershowitz described it, the Bolton story might or might not be serious, but it’s essentially irrelevant to an impeachment trial — with the potential to overturn the results of a presidential election.
“If a president, any president, were to have done what The Times reported about the content of the Bolton manuscript, that would not constitute an impeachable offense,” Dershowitz said.
“Let me repeat: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or impeachable offense. That is clear from the history. That is clear from the language of the Constitution.”
“Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.
That is clear from the history.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) January 28, 2020
And that is the heart of the matter.
What Democrats are doing now is turning their destructive, deranged dislike for Trump and the revolution he’s brought to American politics into an attempt to drive him from office that’s dressed up in constitutional finery.
But that finery can’t disguise the inherently undemocratic nature of the Democratic effort.
The place to settle political differences is in a political campaign and the November election.
Just because Democrats are clearly afraid they won’t win that campaign is no excuse to indulge in a poorly veiled assault on the Constitution that comes close to qualifying as a coup.
Democrats might think the rules are different because the president is Donald Trump, but the lesson Dershowitz, a retired Harvard law professor, was teaching was that the precedent they are trying to set now would shake the constitutional system at its foundation of co-equal branches of government.
Personal political preferences are not the issue, he said.
“I stand against the application, and misapplication, of the constitutional criteria in every case and against every president without regard to whether I support his or her parties or policies,” he said.
.@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
That’s the reality of it. Even a Hillary Clinton supporter like Dershowitz sees the inherent danger of an impeachment process that seeks to make Congress supreme over the presidency, regardless of whether the current president is a man most Clinton supporters despise.
The stakes of the Trump impeachment are higher than any so-called revelations from Bolton, higher than Trump himself, and considerably higher than the benighted political aspirations of swamp dwellers such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her flying monkeys in the mainstream media.
That was the argument Dershowitz was making, and it’s just what the Senate — and the country — needed to hear.
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