Noted O.J. Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein lawyer, Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, made an hour-long case on Monday that even if President Donald Trump did what he is accused of–abuse of power and obstruction of Congress–that’s not an impeachable offense. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) immediately responded by saying the presentation was “nonsensical.” Dershowitz, and a number of the president’s conservative supporters, shot back.
Warren, Dershowitz’s former Harvard colleague, tweeted on Monday that his argument was “contrary to both law & fact.” She said separately that “criminal law professor” Dershowitz’s “characterization of the law simply is unsupported.”
“He is a criminal law professor who stood in the well of the Senate and talked about how law never inquires into intent and that we should not be using the president’s intent as part of understanding impeachment,” Warren said. “Criminal law is all about intent. Mens rea is the heart of criminal law. That’s the very basis of it. So it makes his whole presentation just nonsensical. I truly could not follow it.”
Others promptly echoed these thoughts.
The impression that he’s a distinguished authority on constitutional matters is principally Harvard University’s fault. Like John Yoo at Berkeley, he has occupied a protected role there that serves the purposes of the university even though his scholarly work is widely rejected.
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) January 28, 2020
Dershowitz opened with “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” – NOT the standard for impeachment. Please put this guy back under his rock.
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) January 28, 2020
.@AlanDersh said “even if a President commands the power of state to corrupt a future election, by seeking the intervention of a foreign power … that's not something that impeachment would be appropriate for.” WRONG! That’s why we have impeachment! https://t.co/IeC1EPePiD
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 28, 2020
So there you have it: Donald Trump’s defense comes down to Alan Dershowitz’s constitutional expertise and Trump’s truthfulness.
That’s pretty pathetic.
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 28, 2020
But Dershowitz responded on Tuesday afternoon, saying Warren’s inability to follow his argument–that you need a crime to impeach–says more about her than him.
“Warren doesn’t understand the law. My former colleague, Senator Warren, claims she could not follow my carefully laid out presentation that everybody else seemed to understand. This says more about Warren than it does about me,” Dershowitz tweeted. “She also willfully mischaracterized what I said, claiming that I spoke about ‘intent.’ I challenge her to find that word anywhere in my presentation.”
“I talked about the difficulty of discerning mixed motives. If Warren knew anything about criminal law she would understand the distinction between motives – which are not elements of crime—and intent, which is,” he continued. “It’s the responsibility of presidential candidates to have a better understanding of the law.”
Many conservatives, whether they be in Congress, on cable news, or practice law, immediately backed up Dershowitz. They said, una voce, that Dershowitz had taken Warren to the “legal woodshed.” They also criticized Warren for pejoratively referring to Dershowitz as a “criminal law professor.”
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) January 28, 2020
Alan Dershowitz made it clear: even if you assume everything supposedly in the Bolton book manuscript is true, “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” both fail as legal, constitutional arguments. They’re not impeachable offenses. pic.twitter.com/Q1TPJVw6Dy
— John Ratcliffe (@RepRatcliffe) January 28, 2020
Did anyone listen to Dershowitz brilliant rebuttal of every unlawful act of the Radical Dems in this farce. Calling witnesses to what, for what? Wobbly RINOs are abject fools and chief among them Graham, Romney, Toomey, Lankford, Collins. #MAGA @realDonaldTrump #AmericaFirst https://t.co/f22jDpJGvo
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) January 28, 2020
Alan Dershowitz did a tremendous job last night speaking to the Senate
His message: the Democrats have no case
Because even if you ignore the evidence and give them the benefit of the doubt—even IF their allegations are true—this is not impeachment worthy
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 28, 2020
.@RepAdamSchiff keeps trying to claim Dershowitz is just a "criminal defense lawyer."
Partial list of Dershowitz books on aspects of constitutional law:
– Finding Jefferson
– Rights from Wrongs
– Is There a Right to Remain Silent?
– The Case Against Impeaching Trump
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) January 28, 2020
On and on and on. Six decades of constitutional law. Dershowitz handles criminal *appeals*, where the main arguments are almost always about the Constitution. @RepAdamSchiff is just desperate to downplay the fact that Dershowitz made a clear, effective argument. #ImpeachmentTrial https://t.co/8nRBMYiMsg
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) January 28, 2020
History, every Justice to argue impeachment on the Senate floor, founding fathers from the inception of #ImpeachmentTrials disagree with you & are in accord with @AlanDersh #Dershowitz https://t.co/hGXzTyq4Pm
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) January 28, 2020
Dershowitz said on Monday that he would have made the same argument if Hillary Clinton were the one impeached.
[Image via PBS screengrab]