Alan Dershowitz exonerated Richard Nixon. In his defense of another corrupt president, Dershowitz testified this week on behalf of Donald Trump before the Senate that if a president feels he is acting in the best interests of the nation, his actions are not impeachable.
No word yet if the celebrity lawyer is going next to Israel where he can argue that fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be dropped because, as he says so often, his reelection is in the best interests of the Jewish state.
John Dean, who as Nixon’s White House consul knows about self-identified indispensable men, said Dershowitz just “unimpeached Richard Nixon.”
Nixon, who resigned to avoid impeachment, didn’t order the Watergate break-in but he was behind the cover-up in which he tried to use the FBI, CIA and IRS to foil investigators. He had no doubt that his reelection was in the nation’s best interest. In a 1977 interview, “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal.”
Trump clearly shares that view. “Then I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” he has said.
Many Republican senators latched on to Dershowitz’s argument to justify their intent to vote not to remove Trump from office. That would mean that anything a president did that he claimed was in the nation’s (meaning his own) best interest cannot be impeachable.
Following that logic, Dershowitz could argue that John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and Yigal Amir were also innocent, since each saw himself as a true patriot who was convinced he was acting to defend his nation’s interest.
Amir’s wife, Larissa Trimbobler-Amir, has even registered a new political party to run in the March 2 Israeli election called Mishpat Tzedek (Fair Trial) to get a new trial for her husband, who is serving a life sentence for the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Maybe she will hire Dershowitz to defend Amir; that should get him the kind of publicity he craves. Amir still has many followers in Israel who think he was a patriot saving the nation from destruction.
Trump has insisted that he was not trying to coerce a foreign government to dig up dirt on a political opponent but that he was high-mindedly carrying on a crusade against corruption.
This is the same good government advocate who wanted to repeal the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits American companies from bribing foreign leaders, because the president thought the restriction was bad for business.
Nixon didn’t order the Watergate break-in, unlike Trump who did order the hold on assistance to Ukraine, but both thought their actions, including the cover-up of related crimes, was in the best interest of their reelection.
Laurence Tribe, a respected constitutional law professor, called his former Harvard colleague’s theory “stupidity,” “ludicrous,” “groundless” and “deeply misleading.” Dershowitz’s claim “has no basis in the Constitution’s text, structure, history, or purposes,” he tweeted.
Trump’s Senate defenders are poised to acquit him on the grounds they felt that his actions, as reprehensible as they may have been, “did not rise to the level of impeachment.”
Trump is not known as a devout adherent to the truth, and he has repeatedly declared his impeachment to be a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” He will declare victory in the Senate and falsely insist that means he was never really impeached. And his sycophants like Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Sean Hannity and Kellyanne Conway will be all over the media vouching for that lie.
They were impeachable offenses and Trump was formally and officially and constitutionally impeached. He will forever be the impeached president.