What the deuce happened to Alan Dershowitz?

January 30, 2020 • 1:15 pm

UPDATE: Reader Simon sent me this tweet from Dershowitz, denying that he made the argument I characterize below. But read the thread: there are direct quotes, and certainly the NYT thinks that he said what he denies saying:


I seem to remember Alan Dershowitz as a liberal, but now he’s defending Trump in the impeachment trial. That’s okay if he’s trying to secure a President’s right to have a vigorous defense (remember, I was on O.J. Simpson’s defense team for that reason). But I think Dershowitz has swerved to the right as well, and the arguments he’s making in defense of Trump have become simply looney.

I refer in particular to his latest defense, which goes like this. A president should be concerned with his own re-election because he sees the continuation of his Presidency to be in the national interest. Therefore, if he does something like Trump did, blackmailing Ukraine by withholding a weapons offer unless they investigated one of his opponents, that is simply the President acting in the national interest, and thus it’s not an impeachable offense.

Is the man sane? Does anybody really think that Trump was thinking of the welfare of the U.S. when he does stuff like this? Of course not, and Dershowitz’s claim is simply dumb.  (You can make that argument, but rest assured that Trump was thinking of his own welfare.)

And ask yourself this: what if Trump said he’d withhold military aid from the Ukraine unless that country put $10,000,000 into his re-election campaign? Would that be okay?  Or, worse: what if he asked for a personal payment in return for aid? After all, that would enhance his ability to get re-elected if he used that money to campaign.

These aren’t fanciful questions; even the New York Times extrapolated from Dershowitz’s lame “defense”.

Mr. Dershowitz’s comments were in response to a question from Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, about whether posing a “quid pro quo” — conditioning one thing on another — could ever be appropriate conduct for a president, particularly in the realm of foreign policy. It went to a central claim of Mr. Trump’s defense, that tying aid to Ukraine to investigations of his political rivals was not a corrupt effort to gain election advantage, but an appropriate exercise of his foreign policy prerogative to root out corruption and increase burden-sharing with other countries.

But the response went far further, suggesting that nothing a president did could ever be considered a corrupt abuse of power as long as he or she considered it in the national interest.

Heather Hastie and I recently discussed the possible reasons why Dershowitz was so eager to defend Trump. My own view is that he’s somewhat of a narcissist who needs to stay in the public eye. Regardless, he’s not providing good “optics” making statements like this.

Dershowitz making the white power gesture. (KIDDING!)


143 thoughts on “What the deuce happened to Alan Dershowitz?

  1. I suspect Dershowitz has only unquestioned support for the right-ring government of Israel, regardless of political party here, but wouldn’t an investigation as to whether or not the Bidens needed investigating be reasonable before jumping to conclusions?

    2014: www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/05/14/hunter-bidens-new-job-at-a-ukrainian-gas-company-is-a-problem-for-u-s-soft-power

    2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/world/europe/corruption-ukraine-joe-biden-son-hunter-biden-ties.html From someone who called for impeachment over a year ago:https://consortiumnews.com/2019/09/21/if-the-facts-come-out-it-could-spell-the-end-for-joe-biden

    1. Regardless of whether or not there are any good reasons to investigate the Biden’s, that issue doesn’t have anything to do with the investigations into Trump et al. Even if Joe or Hunter, or both, have done the things the Trump machine says they have it would not in any way exonerate their behavior.

      Just as if you were to commit a crime and then claim you did it to try and find out if your competitor had committed a crime, that excuse would not relieve you of ethical or legal responsibility for the crime you committed.

      Also consider, if either Biden has done what Trump et al claim, why did they wait until evidence of Trump’s crimes has gotten him in trouble to bring up this issue with the Bidens? And why did Trump use criminal means to try and coerce another nation to merely claim publicly that they were opening an investigation into the Biden’s rather than use the very powerful legal means at his disposal?

      Why, after such a long and sordid history of lies and sordid behavior, why does anyone believe anything that Trump et al say? Forget the Biden’s. It’s some unclear combination of misdirection and lies, and has no relevance to Trump’s crimes.

      1. “…rather than use the very powerful legal means at his disposal?” That is the point exactly. That alone completely destroys any argument that Mr Trump was after more general Ukrainian corruption.
        Moreover, Ms Yovanovitch, US ambassador to the Ukraine, was at the forefront in the fight against Ukrainian corruption. Why did she have to be removed?
        [That is a rhetorical question, but for the ‘g’s among us: she would never be part of what Mr Bolton described as a ‘drug deal’]

    1. If I were his physician, I’d first and foremost like to exclude tertiary syphilis, as I would with Mr Trump.
      Prefrontal disinhibition is quite typical of neuro-syphilis, but not pathognomonic. They definitely need their bloods tested.
      Not doing so would be medical negligence, in my modest, but not uninformed, opinion.

      1. “Prefrontal disinhibition is quite typical of neuro-syphilis, but not pathognomonic.”

        This assumes that his prefrontal lobe development proceeded beyond that of the average juvenile/adolescent male human primate.

  2. I watched the trial online. Dershowitz says what the NYT writes. He is now desperately trying to claim he was misunderstood.

    This is supposed to be one of our country’s most skilled and able attorneys? I’ve seen better on reruns of Law & Order. He has become an embarrassment. This is worse than his “I kept my underwear on!” defense in regard to his role in the Epstein scandal (his association is murkier than any that has ever been implied to smear others, like Pinker).

    1. “I didn’t say what you have a recording of me saying” is getting to be a common refrain from this crowd. Mulvaney being a prominent example.

      I’d missed the underwear comment, but it comes up a lot on the twitter thread

            1. I dunno, his skinny white legs sticking out of his tighty whities …. it’s just not working for me as a dignified image

              1. “I dunno, his skinny white legs sticking out of his tighty whities . . . .”

                Would you find another skin tone less offensive to your delicate aesthetic sensibilities?

  3. I agree with your assessment.

    I am on Twitter, and receive a lot of tweets from the pro-Israel crowd (of which I am a member).

    I am appalled at the single-issue partisanship on display. There is no hesitation at the the brutal character assassination of anyone who even questions Trump.

    I believe, as you do, that this is why Dershowitz has rushed to his defense. And one wonders also about the possibility of a tie-in with the Epstein case…

  4. It could be that Dershowitz has been bitten by the same crazy animal as Giuliani. After all, they are both old and irrelevant and apparently have removed all mirrors from the house to maintain the illusion they are not. The animal that bit them was Trump of course and the disease is much worse than rabies. They are part of the inner cult of Trump.

    1. Some time in the early ’90s, the NYC Bar Association held a forum on the conflict between pre-trial publicity and fair trials. The two speakers were Rudy Giuliani and Alan Dershowitz. Since they didn’t have anyone on the other side to make an interesting debate, I didn’t go.

  5. Dershowitz is among a host of slime balls who are on record defining Trump as a corrupt idiot [and so on] who have done a 180 to become his enablers. The only reasons I can come up with are self-aggrandizement and power-mongering.

  6. I subscribe to the “wants to stay in the public eye” theory. He wants to stay relevant and consequential as he seemed to be over his career. Retirement doesn’t suit a man like that. I disregard what he says. Lawrence Tribe, an eminent legal scholar, who I think was a classmate of his, has called him on the lameness of his arguments re tRump.

    1. Dershowitz craves public attention as you note. Here is Laurence Tribe skewering “The Dersh” in an eloquent plea to Republicans to think of what they are doing to the country. Of course, the Republicans will ignore him as any pretense that the country is a democracy goes out the window.

  7. IMHO, Dershowitz has always been about himself and being in the limelight. In 1995, that meant joining the Simpson defense team. In 2017 to the present, that means signing on with Trump. I doubt that he sees any inconsistency whatsoever.

  8. The argument should be that it was an abuse for power to delay the aid. Period. For any reason.

    That cuts out the defense that it was done to promote a national interest, not a personal interest.

    I never heard a candidate say he was running for office for personal gain or interest. It is always said to be to serve the country as a sense of duty. At great sacrifice to themselves.

    Have all theses people been lying to me. I am shocked, shocked to find out they might have been. Since I am not a mind reader, I guess I will never know.

  9. Donald Trump has attracted to himself a bunch of formerly famous oldsters — Dershowitz, Rudy Giuliani, William Barr, and Newt Gingrich among them — willing to toss away whatever reputation they once may have had in exchange for a last grasp at the brass ring of relevancy. It’s pathetic.

    Trump makes foul every last thing he touches.

    1. It is a common belief that people, particularly politicians, are always concerned about their legacy. These guys disprove it.

  10. Sadly people are learning from Trump’s playbook. Deny what you said and the people who matter will pretend like they believe you.

    1. Always deny, never admit. Constantly counterattack. Clear the playing board and change the subject as a last resort — it’s the Trump formula, one his minions have learned to mimic.

  11. Dershowitz’s position has provided a lot of cover for the GOP Senators who were always going to let Trump skate regardless. While his position is wrong on abuse of power not being grounds for impeachment, I do think part of his argument is being misinterpreted on the non-Fox media outlets. (Maybe there too but I don’t watch Fox.)

    Rick Santorum, of all people, hit the nail on the head this time, telling CNN that Dershowitz is only saying that a president offering a quid pro quo to advance his election chances, taken alone, is not worthy of impeachment. Politicians do lots of things to make people want to vote for them in the next election. That by itself is not a bad thing as they view their reelection as being in the public interest.

    That’s debatable but what he isn’t saying, presumably because it would bolster his opposition’s case, what Trump is being accused of is much more than seeking reelection.

    The “grounds for impeachment” case against Trump seems pretty simple. Doing something against the US’s stated foreign policy solely because it furthers his own election prospects seems to be exactly what the Founders had in mind when they added Impeachment to the Constitution. Dershowitz is doing a Dr. Irwin Corey impression, deliberately making an argument that will be misinterpreted.

    1. Strange, isn’t it, that an experienced high level attorney of national stature is unable to advance his position clearly. Listening to it, I thought he was just being nuts to make tRump happy.

  12. It’s all very simple. Trump’s shyster Giuliani has already declared that “The truth is not the truth”.

  13. Two days ago, at a White House conference, Dershowitz was seen giving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo an encouraging pat on the shoulder as “president” Trump congratulated Pompeo for throwing an obscenity-laced hissy-fit, and for dissembling about, a respected reporter who had asked Pompeo a straightforward question about former US ambassador to Ukraine Masha Yovanovitch.

    Pay no heed to Dershowitz’s protestations that he’s in this impeachment thing on principle alone. Guy’s gone full-bore Team Trump.

    1. Yes, I saw that, and when Dershowitz was called out on that pat on the back, he try to rationalize it by saying he did that because he supports Pompeo’s Israel policies – another nonsensical line of reasoning from Dershowitz.

      1. “500 lawyers…” Why, that’s just *hilarious*.

        Which ones would you like to start with? Schiff? Tribe? The entire legal staffs of the AHA, the FFRF, and the ACLU?

          1. Not just J.D.; actually practicing. (Civil and probate litigation.)

            You don’t have to tell me about the bad ones; my civil practice is heavily weighted toward professional malpractice, including legal. Which gets me enough grief as is; I’m like Internal Affairs, and as you learn watching any police procedural, no one likes the “rat squad.”

            But the people who make those jokes don’t differentiate. Might as well plug in the n-word instead to see how it sounds.

    2. I think Mary Louise Kelley is a very competent and professional NPR reporter – to the extent that she can discipline herself to refrain from interrupting/cutting off interviewees when their answers do not conform to what she wants to hear.

      1. She was asking Pompeo entirely appropriate, reasonable questions when he went off on her. Then he dissimulated about their subsequent meeting in the living room of his office, falsely claiming they had agreed that it be off the record, and suggesting that she misidentified Bangladesh for Ukraine on his unmarked-map pop quiz.

        Chrissake, the woman has a master’s degree in European Studies from Cambridge. It’s not like she’s gonna be unable to pick out Ukraine like some common Trump.

        1. Indeed. Probability that someone with a Cambridge degree in European Studies knows where Crimea is indistinguishable from 1. Probability that someone with a know record of prevarication might lie, also indistinguishable from 1.

        2. I’m talking about her modus operandi in how she deals with/treats interviewees, from listening to her the last couple of years. (For Zeus’s sake)

  14. I suspect it’s an urge for relevancy and support of Israel that motivates him but I have no way of knowing. Lindsey Graham has admitted to the fact that he wants to be relevant as his excuse for being in Trump’s pocket.

    In part, I fully understand the rush of Republicans to defend Trump and acquit him. We live in a representative democracy and if your constituents, at least a majority of them, want him acquitted, you’d be representing their wishes to vote to do so. Should our politicians represent those who they represent or follow their conscience?

    What is the obligation to follow a higher calling when you are representing those who think that higher calling is something else?

    1. Actually, a recent poll says 75% of voters, and a majority of Republicans, want to see more witnesses in the impeachment trial. I’m not saying we should judge this thing as a popularity contest but, if we were to do so, the trial wouldn’t be over by a long shot.

      1. Yep, and that’s why Senators like Collins from Maine and Gardner from Colorado (and I’m sure a few others) are under water right now and will most likely lose in 2020.

        1. For one, Martha McSally – lost the election and got appointed to the senate anyhow – now heavily trailing Mark Kelly in her reelection bid 🙂

          1. “…now heavily trailing Mark Kelly in her reelection bid.”

            I’ve been sending money to both Amy McGrath and Mark Kelley. But I’ve also seen the solicitations from Jaime Harrison.

            What’s the group’s thinking on the best way to contribute at this point? Keeping in mind that it isn’t just about Dem challengers; Gary Peters and Doug Jones both have tough battles.

            1. Tweet the question at Nate Silver @NateSilver538 the 538 crowd were giving breakdowns on the most “cost efficient” donations at house and senate level during the last presidential election cycle. Have not seen anything this cycle but they will probably get nagged into it soon (may have done already and I missed it).

            2. Mark Kelly is sitting on a pile of dough and is ahead of McSally (who lost her last senate election and is a shitty campaigner) in the early polling.

              McGrath’s campaign goes to the crux of everything. If she can unseat McConnell, it’ll mean a blue wave as well as sayonara for the most loathsome and pernicious politician of his generation. That’s where I’ll be sending my shekels.

              1. ” . . . McSally (who lost her last senate election and is a shitty campaigner) . . . .”

                Perhaps one should pray to Divine Providence that she be delivered from this particular incontinence.

        2. I heard an unfortunate, but compelling analysis of why Republicans will vote against witnesses: “If they vote against witnesses, they lose their next election. If they vote for witnesses, they lose their next primary.”

        3. The only glimmer of redemption that Gardner has with most Colorado voters is to vote for witnesses. We all know that he won’t do that, but it won’t matter – whichever way he goes, his Senate seat will be taken by Hickenlooper {D}

    2. The obligation is to fo what you think is right regardless of what your voters want. You gave to judge what is right by what you think us right. Political scientists agree on this. There are several reasons for that. One us you have mire information and knowledge about the issue than they. There are other arguments having to do with ethics. Then there is the oath if office. I fin’t believe the oath says you swear to do what your voters want. Something in there about upholding the constitution and following the law and picky things like that. There are more arguments but I will dtop there.

    3. The Republican delegation in the United States congress could teach a thing or two about servility born of fear to the “People’s Assembly” in the DPRK. Congressional Republicans fear Trump because his popularity with Republican voters in their home constituencies exceeds their own. They dare not cross the Donald.

      GOP senators will refuse to hear the testimony of witnesses (such as John Bolton) based on a simple calculation: since they will vote to acquit Donald Trump no matter what, and since a vote against hearing live witnesses now is less humiliating than would be a vote to acquit Trump were the testimony of these witnesses to be adduced.

      Their votes will live on in infamy. Senate Republicans will drag this behind them for the rest of their lives, as Jacob Marley did his chains in the afterlife. Their votes to support Donald Trump will follow them into the lead paragraphs of their obituaries, much as the votes of the House judiciary committee Republicans who refused to support the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon in 1974 did theirs.

      1. I can see Dershowitz’s preposterous ‘public interest’ argument going down in history. Already a few phrases are beginning to cement themselves into the historical canon, like ‘alternative facts’, but Dershowitz’s argument was so extreme and manifestly absurd it will serve as a perfect future shorthand for the Trump Derangement of the American right.
        Fuck these people. Everywhere they exist they are poison. There is so much nauseating political cross-contamination between my country and yours, and the sooner that revolting failed steak-salesman gets hoiked by his pantwaist and twanged into the nearest canyon the better.

        1. I think Dershowitz was misinterpreted in some of his argument but I won’t shed a tear for him. He didn’t explain his position well but that’s his fault and it may well have been deliberate. His career deserves to go down in flames. I doubt Trump will reward him as he has claimed to be a lifelong Democrat that voted for Hillary. Who knows if that’s even true? He clearly threw it in to his speech to lend credibility to it.

  15. Dershowitz has always been a scumbag. He was a friend and frequent visitor of Jeffrey Epstein, and is implicated in some of Epstein’s crimes.

  16. Dershowitz is losing it. We’ve seen this before with Rudy Giuliani – I’m old enough to remember when Rudy wasn’t a complete bumbling fool.

    Trump Derangement Syndrome seems to be a real thing.

      1. I know the intended propaganda of “TDS”, but it’s not deranged to hold a person like Trump in contempt. It is deranged to admire and support a person like Trump.

  17. Dershowitz is in love with being a celebrity. His concern and passion for a robust legal system is I think bullshit. I think he may always have been this way.

    1. I’m imagining that you imagine that that comment was humorous.

      And BTW, it’s “any more,” not “anymore.”

  18. So I guess if a President were to send a team to break into the opposition’s offices to, say, photograph documents of theirs and to install wiretaps, like maybe if those offices were in the Watergate Hotel, that this is fine since his getting re-elected is in the national interest.

    Interesting to know.

    1. “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

      I seem to recall some great American statesman taking that one out for a test flight.

  19. This “argument” by Dershowitz makes me seethe. This is beyond perverse logic, it is a cynical lawyer gimmick to spraypaint the thinnest coat of white on a dog turd in an attempt to disguise it. By this idiotic logic, overtly illegal and impeachable conduct by a president would be acceptable because guaranteeing their own re-election is in the national interest. It’s as if merely stating an argument is sufficient because now that empty spot has been occupied.

    We need another syllogism for this fake news, relative truth, non-existent objectivity era. “What can be asserted without evidence may actually stick if relentlessly asserted.”

  20. I see Dershowitz as today’s equivalent of Aaron Burr. Both are traitors in my eyes. Dershowitz cites one of his Harvard law professors to confirm his argument. The law professor says Dershowitz is wrong. The URL is as follows: https://youtu.be/OaCQv6Q8C7w

    1. Yes. I like the comment by Anderson Cooper who compares the appearance of the law professor, Nikolas Bowie, to the appearance of Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall. Dersh sites Bowie as siding with himself, but Bowie sets the record strait.

  21. Stephen Colbert last night characterized Dershowitz’s argument as “a logical turd pinched out on to the floor of the Senate”

    He devoted most of his monologue to Dershowitz and it is well worth watching

  22. I was listening when he supposedly said this, and he really did say it.

    I haven’t checked all the comments, but I’m sure there are others saying the same thing.

  23. It’s not just Trump- it’s when an entire political party thinks it’s in the country’s best interest to elevate their leader to the office of dictator-for-life, and to lie their pants off to do so, that I really develop cold sweats.

    BTW, how are we to *know* that Trump had the country’s best interests in mind when he extorted the Ukraine? Anyone for calling witnesses? Or are we just supposed to take Trump’s word for it, like he never lies or anything?

    I swear, they take us for fools.

    1. They take their supporters for fools.
      In that they are correct.

      They take the rest as voters to be suppressed and for those they can’t, they are busy stacking the courts with right wing ideologues.

  24. I listened to his remarks as he spoke them, and thought his point was very poorly made.

    But I am one of those who actually thinks the Bidens should be investigated. Maybe none of them broke any laws. If so, we should enact some. People should not be getting rich from public office. People should not be getting rich because they have a relative who was elected to office.

    I would find it pretty comforting if at least one of those families actually paid a real price for such shenanigans. Otherwise, it really seems like laws are for the little people.

    Once again, I am no fan of Trump. I did not vote for him. But as an American, I am one of his constituents. Long before the current phone call episode, I was writing about Burisma and Hunter B. I absolutely think it is in the best interest of the nation for the Burisma/Biden issue to be fully investigated. Even if doing so also helps Trump.

    I think Dershowitz was trying to make the point that Trump asking for the investigation was not in itself wrong. Trump campaigned largely on swamp draining. Office holders should be partly motivated by the idea that their actions will have consequences at the next election. That is why we have election terms. We (or most of us) don’t want judges to have that same motivation. They should just be impartial, so they are are exempt from the need to campaign and pander. And if an administration is breaking the law just for holding up aid, then we need to revisit Biden’s hold on Ukrainian aid. Which was clearly conditional on the Ukrainian President meeting explicit demands.

    Also, Dershowitz is serving as council. In that position, his whole job is to advocate for his client, and to take whatever steps he can to see his client acquitted, within the bounds of legality and the best practices of his profession.

    1. “People should not be getting rich because they have a relative who was elected to office”

      But why start with the Hunter Biden? Look no further that tRump’s own family. Ivanka is like a cheap dime store of corrupt use of family influence. She now holds dozens of copyrights in China. Why go back to a vice president’s son who took thousands of dollars to buff up the image of an energy company? Why not focus on the current situation to stimulate new legislation? Jefferson and Monroe were scheming to make good on land deals in the Ohio territory. Should we reopen that caste too? What’s good for the goose…

      1. How about Trump son-in-law (and dilettante senior White House adviser) Jared Kushner’s family’s white-elephant building at 666 Fifth Avenue getting bailed out to the tune of $4 billion by a Qatar-linked lender after Qatar (home of a major US military base) first took a pass on helping the Kushners, then got blockaded by Jared’s butt-buddy Mohammad Bin Salman (with the tacit approval of the Trump administration), which then withdrew the blockade after the Kushner family got its Qatari loan?

        Or how about Trump getting the US sanctions for theft of intellectual property imposed on Chinese tech giant ZTE lifted the week after a Chinese government bank made a half billion dollar loan to an Indonesian resort featuring Trump hotels and golf courses?

        Some nifty swamp-draining, that.

        That Donald Trump has the slightest interest in fighting foreign corruption is risible on its face. He spent his business career involved in corrupt foreign deals and, as soon as he took office, pressed his new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to see to it that the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act got repealed.

        1. I’d say, if these don’t rise to the level of impeachment, they should make any sane person vote Democratic. But, there are many fewer sane persons in the U.S. than I thought there were a few years ago.

      2. I would say that focusing on people who are currently alive would serve justice better than trying to prosecute those long dead.
        As for Trump, sure, lets go for it. However, he is not a lifelong politician. He has been in for three years, and came into politics with what is probably a lot of money.

        Biden is, I think, an easier target. He practiced law for a total of three years (69-72), while also pursuing political office. He has been a full time career politician since 1972, when his salary was $42,500. In his last year as VP, he made $235K. Of course he has book deals and speaking fees.

        His son Hunter has mostly worked for companies that were under the sphere of influence of his father’s political policies. He has made many millions of dollars, but his drug addiction issues have taken a toll.

        Joe’s Brother James was hired by Hillstone International when the company started lobbying for construction contracts in Iraq. He also has a long history of working for firms with issues where Joe had political influence. In 2007, two of his partners were caught on an FBI wiretap discussing the need to meet with “the Bidens” to get “your man in line” to support a particular tobacco bill they were lobbying for.

        Joe’s Brother Frank’s company, Sun Fund Americas, started working on several projects in Costa Rica and Jamaica as Joe B. was tasked by the Obama administration with being the point man for “The Caribbean Energy Security Initiative”. Tens of Millions of dollars of loans and contracts went to Biden-owned companies, including a $60M contract to build a solar facility in Jamaica. Frank B. had no previous experience in the energy industry.

        Joe B’s son in law Howard Krein started a medical investment company which got a giant start by being promoted by HHS under the Obama/Biden admin. “StartUp Health” went from having a new business plan, but not even a website, to meetings in the White House, to being actively promoted by the government, in the time span of about a week. Now the company run by Krein and his two siblings makes real money. Howard Krein does seem like a highly competent person.

        But with Howard Krein as an exception, Biden’s family members have managed to get super lucrative jobs in businesses where they have no previous experience, at exactly the time when Joe was in the position to directly affect government funding of those businesses, or legislation that they had a strong stake in. There is way more to it than I have mentioned here.

        1. Sounds like a very opportunistic family. That’s not especially good behavior, although it sound like it is widely practiced in politics the world over. I wouldn’t want to excuse all that, but it doesn’t say too much about Biden himself and his potential to be a good president. He definitely would not get involved with Russian influence to help him with reelection. Make’s Bernie and Warren sound like angels doesn’t it.

          1. Agreed. If we are going to make leveraging a parent’s position to gain advantage in the world into a crime, we’re going to need a lot more lawyers, judges, and jurors. The short answer is that this can’t possibly be a crime. In many cases, it doesn’t rise to the level of being a sleazy offense.

    2. How long did it take you to write this bullshit? I hope not long…you said you were old…stop wasting your time. You’re wrong and silly. Please, go do something fun.

    3. “Trump campaigned largely on swamp draining.”

      Trump also said he wouldn’t be playing golf, he would be working. Trump has more than a little problem with spouting lies and gibberish.

      Have you been paying the least attention to the number of people around Trump who have been charged and/or convicted of crimes?

      Have you noticed how much business he is sending to his own properties?

      Trump IS the swamp. I really don’t know how much more obvious it could possibly be.

    4. But I am one of those who actually thinks the Bidens should be investigated. Maybe none of them broke any laws.

      With that lack of logic those in power could have anyone investigated for no valid reason. That’s how banana republics are run. That’s how Putin retains power.

      1. Sometimes people are investigated with good reason, and it is found that they did not violate the letter of the law. So they are nor prosecuted.
        But if using your Government influence to make yourself and your family rich is being done legally, we need better laws.

        1. Sometimes people are investigated with good reason

          Politics isn’t a good reason to investigate someone. As I said: that’s what banana republics do; that’s what Putin does.

          1. ” . . . that’s what banana republics do . . . .”

            I contemplate the number of banana republics in which the U.S. has intervened during the last 150 years.

            1. The USA just flushed away a massive amount credibility over the last week (and we didn’t any to spare).

    5. Reminder that there has been no US-based investigation of the Bidens and Trump or the GOP could have started one at any time in the past six years. They could have started one yesterday.

      If Biden becomes the nominee they probably WILL start one around October when it’s too late for such an investigation to come back with “yeah we didn’t find anything” before election day.

      Anyone who thinks they actually wanted an investigation is a fool to the hundredth power. They wanted the announcement of an investigation on the teevee and for it to hang over the Biden campaign until November after which it will be forgotten forever.

      1. Yes, if the the DOJ could have opened an investigation they would have – that would have been a much safer ploy than the “Ukraine drug deal”. But no legitimate investigation was possible.

      2. Even Lamar Alexander, the last holdout senator “maybe” for calling witnesses, just tweeted that Trump was obviously guilty as charged but that the crime didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense and the 2nd article of impeachment was “frivolous” (if I remember correctly).

        1. Lamar Alexander is simply an unprincipled chicken’s a**. He’d make the top ten list of Profiles in Skulduggery.

    6. If either of the Bidens is suspected of committing real crime, the proper process should be followed. Somebody starts an investigation with some evidence that justifies it with the appropriate jurisdiction and it goes from there. Only when there is something specific needed from a foreign entity are they contacted. We have proper processes for investigating real crime. Trump didn’t follow any of it and for good reason. There was no justification for any investigation.

  25. This is a case study in “rough justice”. That’s where you don’t get punished for what you really did, but you do get punished for something you didn’t do. The net result is two wrongs may not make a right in theory and it upsets idealists, but in practice the situation ends up pretty much even which pleases pragmatists.

    Alan Dershowitz made a slimy sleazy sycophantic argument. However, it was somewhat sophisticated, not the silly simplistic strawman argument he’s being attacked for allegedly making. However, he really can’t rebut the strawman without sounding weak and whiny, and it doesn’t fit in a tweet anyway. It’s basically live by the sophistry, die by the social media stupidity.

    To oversimplify, he argued that non-clear-crime corruption can’t ever be a “high crime / misdemeanor” for impeachment purposes. People accused him of saying no corruption could ever qualify for impeachment purposes, even those with obvious crimes. When he says “I didn’t say that”, hate-tweeters throw a tiny snippet taken out of context at him and call him names. He can’t out-bluster a Twitter mob, hence the outrage just goes around.

  26. For the rest of the world, this isn’t about what Trump did or claims not to have done, or claims was right to have done if he did it, or whatever stage it’s at now. Rather, for us it’s about how the US president will act in the future.

    From now on the US will stand for open threats and bribery of foreign leaders and entire countries, according to whims of its president.

  27. JC: “(You can make that argument, but rest assured that Trump was thinking of his own welfare.)”
    No doubt. But it’s still (an attempt at) mind reading. Impeaching for Thought-crime, if you will.
    I think Dershowitz’s argument is best characterised as: every single president in the history of the universe considers the effects of their actions — foreign and domestic — on their re-election prospects. (As an aside: one of the reasons second term presidents often act differently). And thus impeaching *Trump* for doing so, because people don’t like him, risks dangerously lowering the bar for future impeachments.
    They have impeached impeachment.
    And let’s not forget: the Bidens’ Burisma Business is *highly* suspect, to say the least…

    1. Every president (particularly one intending to run for reelection) considers the political implications of any major decision, foreign or domestic.

      But no president has the right to use the powers of his office to shakedown a foreign leader for personal political favors, particularly when it involves withholding money appropriated by congress (a power within congress’s sole purview under Article 1 of the US constitution).

      And THAT is precisely what the evidence adduced leaves no doubt that Donald Trump did concerning Ukraine, pace his spurious, unevidenced protestations to the contrary.

  28. I support peoples right to a defense, but Dershowitz is arguing for, is the destruction of separation of powers with congressional oversight of presidents. Trying to overturn the constitution is dangerous, setting an awful precedent. I expect that the Democrats will request Roberts to rule on calling witnesses. We will see if he just a Republican toady. The Republicans would them have to overrule their own Republican chief justice. That would make for headlines!

    1. I see no sign that Roberts has sold out to the GOP or Trump. He took a solid stand against outing the whistleblower which, so far, has been his only opportunity to show his allegiances. He has made it pretty clear that he has no intention of taking an active role in the decisions. The only other opportunity on the horizon is a possible tie-breaking role but no one seriously expects him to do that and it would be unnecessary as a tie means the proposition fails.

      Still, if there are going to be any real surprises in this trial, today’s the day!

    2. Roberts will call it straight down the line, just “balls and strikes” as he said at his confirmation hearing back in 2005 — which is what petrifies Republicans because they know they haven’t a legal leg to stand on in keeping Bolton and the other witnesses off the stand via specious assertions of executive privilege.

      But, in keeping with his conservative judicial philosophy, Roberts will eschew taking an activist role. He has no stomach for inserting himself, or the judicial branch generally, into a political battle within and between the other branches of government. That’s why the Republicans will ultimately prevail on the witness-subpoena issue (and, of course, in the final vote).

        1. I think the Republicans would do anything to keep Bolton from testifying and, thus, making it harder for them to cast their foreordained votes to acquit Trump.

          And I think this is no way to conduct anything that purports to be a “trial.”

  29. I’m late coming to this post, but in case no one else said it, I was watching the Q&A live and HE SAID EXACTLY THAT!

  30. What happened to Dershowitz is that he gave a very considered and carefully argued opinion on the criteria for impeachment, one of the central points being that to impeach for something which is not a crime or not clearly like a serious crime raises the Congress above the constitution. For that sin he has been slimed by the corporate press. He patently did not say that a president can DO ANYTHING if he believes his re-election to be in the public interest. He gave the example of Lincoln insisting that soldiers from Indiana be allowed to return home to vote to avoid negative consequences for the war effort as an example of a decision both critical to the national interest and in the interests of the president.Because something is in the political interest of the president doesn’t mean it isn’t in the national interest.

    Trump is all about holding recipients of US expenditure responsible for keeping up their end of the bargain, so yes, I can believe he was acting in the national interest when he asked that the Ukrainians live up to their promises, which is all that he has been proven to have done.

    1. “Trump is all about holding recipients of US expenditure responsible for keeping up their end of the bargain, so yes, I can believe he was acting in the national interest when he asked that the Ukrainians live up to their promises, which is all that he has been proven to have done.”

      What a pretty way of dignifying an attempt to shakedown an ally in order to dig up spurious dirt on a political enemy. Orwell would be so amused.
      Trump is not about “holding recipients of US expenditure responsible.” He is about himself, and his supposed concern about corruption is a sick joke. That is why he forced out Ambassador Yovanovitch, who really was concerned with rooting out Ukrainian corruption.
      It’s amazing what pretzels Trump’s supporters will stretch themselves into to defend his impeachable conduct.

  31. Something unexpected is going on. This from WaPo’s impeachment blog:

    Impeachment trial live updates: Final verdict could be delayed to next week, after Iowa caucuses and Trump’s State of the Union, officials say


    McConnell really wanted to put this to bed today, and it looked like he had the votes to do so. I can’t imagine why the GOP would allow this to drag out and allow more damaging info to drip out and to have the SOTU with Trump still under impeachment -unless they don’t have the votes.


      1. The latest (Jan 21) info drop from Bolton’s book is that Cipollone (on impeachment defense team) was involved in the Ukraine drug deal – I wouldn’t have thought that would be enough to cause a delay, but that’s the only significant news this morning.

          1. The witness trade stuff is baloney anyway. The Republicans can ask for any witness they want; they have the votes. They could even passed the witness part of the impeachment trial, called Hunter and Joe Biden, voted down subpoenas for the rest, and had their cake and eaten it too as far as I can tell. I stand ready to be corrected.

            I so proud of myself. I almost spelled subpoena right the first time through . Forgot the “b”.

  32. I think the argument is that if the President does something that can be reasonably construed to coincide with the national interest while at the same time doing something that increases his likelihood of re-election, that action is not impeachable.

    Changing the facts, assuming a Democratic primary contestant was a pedophile with a large stash of child porn on his computer, and Trump tipped off the police, presumably, this would be in the national interest while at the same time serving his campaign.

    I don’t think Dershowitz is claiming that an assertion of “national interest” is entirely subjective (the national interest is whatever Trump says or thinks it is), nor conflating the national interest with a private interest in re-election. It more like when a President acts with mixed motivations in a way that a reasonable person could construe as being consistent with the national interest while at the same time, that action betters his or her private interest, it is not impeachable.

    It works here because many people view the conduct of the Bidens as suspicious, and many people have concerns about election interference by Ukraine in the 2016 election (at least in the Senate), so many of the senators voting on this trial, if they buy Dershowitz’s argument, would acquit if they shared those concerns, or felt those concerns were reasonable, even if Trump was, in part, self-dealing.

    1. I think your argument fails for two reasons:

      1. Trump seems to have almost gone out of his way to NOT give a legitimate “national interest” rationalization for his actions until after getting caught. At the same time, his actions during this period also indicate that he knew what he was doing was wrong. Even if you could argue that he didn’t know, many of his staff told him that it was wrong.

      2. The conduct of the Bidens is not at all suspicious. Joe Biden’s action has been explained many times but Trumpers continue to ignore it. It was done in plain sight with everyone watching and agreeing with it. Hunter Biden has only leveraged his father’s position to get a job. That isn’t even a crime. If either had committed a crime, someone would have reported it to our justice system.

    2. … assuming a Democratic primary contestant was a pedophile with a large stash of child porn on his computer, and Trump tipped off the police, presumably, this would be in the national interest while at the same time serving his campaign.

      Sure, because such a call to the police would not have involved the use of the powers of his office as president.

      By the same token, if Donald Trump had a good-faith belief that one or other of the Bidens had violated the law — which the circumstances indicate pretty clearly he did not — Trump was free, the same as any other US citizen would be, to make a referral to the FBI, and then to let that investigation run its course without interference from the White House and without interference from a non-governmental actor working at the president’s behest (such as Rudy Giuliani).

      The FBI has resident agents assigned to the embassies of all our allies. They routinely conduct investigations of misconduct by American citizens in the host country. If those agents need the assistance of the host country (regarding, say, the production of documents or the interviewing of witnesses) they can obtain it through a request made pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (known as an “MLAT” request), the express purpose for which the United States entered that treaty in the first place.

      What one does not do — especially if one is the president of the USA — is request a foreign government to investigate an American citizen, especially if that American citizen is the president’s potential political rival. And it is corrupt beyond peradventure for a US president to ask a foreign government to conduct an investigation of an American citizen as a favor, and all the more corrupt where the president is asking for such a favor against a political rival while withholding an official presidential act as a quid pro quo.

      I should hope that this is straightforward and obvious once one has a rudimentary understanding of how the law is supposed to work, and once one has given these circumstances some thought.

    3. Would you be okay with Trump calling a police chief and ask him to go on television to announce that the police were opening a kiddie-porn investigation into Trump’s Democratic rival (whether or not such an investigation was actually pending) while Trump was holding back one of those grants the federal government routinely gives out to assist local police departments?

      ‘Cause that seems a lot closer analogy to what happened here.

  33. I’m looking forward to a bank robber using the Dershowitz defence. After all, they’re unlikely to bury the cash in the ground; they’ll spend it, which is good for the economy, and the real reason they did it!

  34. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former president of Estonia, just tweeted this:

    “Great! No more tedious US lectures on rule of law, fair trials, evidence, equality before the law, transparency, corruption, free and fair elections” — some 130 governments around the world right now.

    I don’t think the Republicans realize yet how much they’ve damaged their own country.

  35. It’s not just Trump- it’s when an entire political party thinks it’s in the country’s best interest to elevate their leader to the office of dictator-for-life, and to lie their pants off to do so, that I really develop cold sweats.

    Even worse, that corrupt political party in power represents a minority of the people.

    The 49 senators that voted for witnesses represents 19 million more people than the 51 senators that voted against hearing witnesses!

    This systemic inequality is the root of so many of our problems.

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