Why not add in a little Johnny Cochran to all this Dream Team debate? Alas, Alan Dershowitz never does invoke the famous OJ Simpson trial refrain, but he does argue that the allegations in the House’s articles of impeachment are constitutionally irrelevant. Dershowitz plans to make that argument on the Senate floor during the trial of Donald Trump, an argument that Adam Schiff called “absurdist” in the preceding segment on ABC’s This Week yesterday:
SCHIFF: Well, that’s the argument I suppose you have to make if the facts are so dead set against you, if the president has admitted to the wrongdoing, his chief of staff has confessed to the wrongdoing, his European Union ambassador has confessed to the same quid pro quo, you have to rely on an argument that even if he abused his office in this horrendous way, that it’s not impeachable, you had to go so far out of the mainstream to find someone to make that argument, you had to leave the realm of constitutional law scholars and go to criminal defense lawyers.
Even Professor Turley, who testified on behalf of House Republicans, couldn’t make that argument, in fact, in the House made exactly the opposite argument, that abuse of power is at the center of what the framers intended an impeachable offense to be. The logic of that absurdist position that’s being now adopted by the president is he could give away the state of Alaska, he could withhold execution of sanctions on Russia for interfering in the last election, to induce or coerce Russia to interfere in the next one.
That would have appalled — the mere idea of this would have appalled the founders, who were worried about exactly that kind of solicitation of foreign interference in an election for a personal benefit, the danger it poses to national security. That goes to the very heart of what the framers intended to be impeachable.
Actually, Turley did make that argument, and made it very well. The House may have made the opposite argument, as Schiff said, but that doesn’t mean it was the correct argument. It just meant that they had a bare majority to allow impeachment on a straight party-line vote. Isn’t the “Trump could give away Alaska” argument at least slightly more absurdist? Not only didn’t Trump even mention Alaska, all he did in this case was delay US aid to Ukraine, which makes Schiff’s comments ludicrously hysterical and hyperbolic. If Trump did try to give away Alaska without involving Congress, that would obviously be an impeachable act anyway.