Alan Dershowitz appears to have only muddied the waters in describing his role on President Trump’s legal team for the Senate impeachment trial during his appearances on Sunday morning cable news programs.
Despite Trump listing, Dershowitz’s name in a press release announcing his Senate trial counsel Friday, Dershowitz has insisted that he’s not a full-fledged member of the President’s legal team. When CNN’s Brianna Keilar asked him to clarify his role, Dershowitz responded that he’s “both” part of the legal team and an advocate against impeachment.
“Both — I am a member of the legal team. I am making what could be the most important argument on the floor of the Senate,” Dershowitz said. “Namely, that even if everything that is alleged by the House managers is proven or taken as true, they would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.”
After Keilar asked how he could be both, followed by CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin pointing out to Dershowitz that he is “trying to elevate [himself] beyond being a lawyer as sort of a neutral expert” despite his actual role of being “a lawyer representing a client,” Dershowitz shot back that he is “just a lawyer” who is “not involved in the day-to-day issues.”
“I am just a lawyer and I have done this a dozen times. I’ve been of counsel in many cases solely on the Constitutional issue,” Dershowitz said. “I am not involved in the day-to-day issues.”
Keilar then asked Dershowitz who hired him, which he responded that he was “asked by the President’s defense team to become of counsel on the specific issue of the criteria – the Constitutional criteria – for impeachment,” before adding that his role is how he is going advocate against impeachment.
“That’s a very important issue, and I will be making that argument as an advocate, not an expert witness,” Dershowitz said. “I am advocating against impeachment of this President based on the Constitutional criteria.”
Dershowitz made another appearance later Sunday morning on ABC News where he would reiterate that he’s “here as a constitutional lawyer,” but claimed that as a lawyer in this case, it is not his job to “present my personal views on what I think.”
When asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos if he thinks it’s OK for a president to solicit foreign interference in our election, Dershowitz responded that “if the allegations are not impeachable, then this trial should result in an acquittal, regardless of whether the conduct is regarded as OK by you or by me or by voters.”
After Stephanopoulos asked Dershowitz again for his thoughts — to which he insisted that “as a lawyer in the case, I’m not going to present my personal views on what I think” but that he believes “that conduct does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense” — Stephanopoulos pointed out that contradicts a quote his recent book on impeachment where he writes: “An American should not collude with a foreign power in an effort to enhance his candidacy.”
Dershowitz then pivoted back to saying that he’s “not here for a political discussion” and that he’s a “liberal Democrat who voted against President Trump and who voted for Hillary Clinton.”
“I’m here to present a constitutional argument the way I did in the Clinton impeachment and the way I argued when I was on the national board of the ACLU in the Nixon administration,” Dershowitz said.
When pressed by Stephanopoulos about whether he’s willing to endorse the statement that Trump’s legal team made Saturday evening in response to the Senate summons, which argued that the President did nothing wrong, Dershowitz said that he “did not read that brief or sign that brief” and reiterated this his “mandate is to present the constitutional argument.”
“That’s not part of my mandate. My mandate is to present the constitutional argument,” Dershowitz said. “And if the constitutional argument succeeds, we don’t reach that issue, because you can’t charge a President with impeachable conduct if it doesn’t fit within the criteria for the Constitution.”