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Harvard Law Prof: Dershowitz’s Argument Means Trump Can Round Up Black People to Prevent Them from Voting for a Democrat

A Harvard Law professor–who Alan Dershowitz cited as helpful to his defense of President Donald Trump–responded on Thursday to Dershowitz’s wild argument that “If a president does something that he thinks will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

Professor Nikolas Bowie not only called that argument a “joke” and “irresponsible,” he also came up with an extreme hypothetical to make a point about the logical end of said argument (see 3-minute mark).

“Think of what that would mean. That would mean that if a president were to order the military to start rounding up black people because he’s afraid they’re going to vote for a Democrat in the next election, and so long is the president is motivated by the national interest–so long as the president is motivated to get re-elected–then that’s fine. Then the president isn’t corrupt,” he said. “That can’t be right.”

Bowie wrote three days ago, “Don’t Be Confused by Trump’s Defense. What He Is Accused of Are Crimes.” Despite that, Harvard Law professor emeritus Dershowitz cited Bowie’s New York Times op-ed, saying, “He thinks I’m wrong and yet he agrees with me that maladministration, abuse of power and abuse of office are essentially the same. I’m not quoting him for his conclusion. I’m quoting him for the point that you just made saying no scholars think that abuse of power is the same as maladministration.”

“The best you can do is quote a scholar who thinks you’re wrong?” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin shot back.

The bottom line: Bowie believes that abuse of power is a common law crime and impeachable; Dershowitz takes the position that even if Trump is guilty of what he is accused of, that’s not an impeachable offense.

Dershowitz says his argument is being “willfully distorted.”

Here was his updated take:

[Image via CNN screengrab]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.