Retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz gave his first defense of President Trump in his impeachment trial on Monday night, and said he would have defended President Hillary Clinton under the same circumstances.
Mr. Dershowitz told senators that the Constitution’s requirement of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for impeaching a president “do not encompass the two articles charging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress” against Mr. Trump.
“I would be making the very same constitutional argument had Hillary Clinton, for whom I voted, been elected, and had a Republican House voted to impeach her on these unconstitutional grounds,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “I am here today because I love my country and our Constitution.”
He said he also stood in 1973-74 “for the protection of the constitutional and procedural rights of Richard Nixon, who I personally abhorred, and whose impeachment I personally favored.”
“I stood for the rights of Bill Clinton, who I admired, and whose impeachment I strongly opposed,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “I stand against the application and misapplication of the constitutional criteria in every case and against any president, without regard to whether I support his or her parties or policies.”
Mr. Dershowitz also had the distinction of becoming the first member of the president’s team, after nearly seven hours of arguments on Monday, to mention the name of former White House national security adviser John R. Bolton in the trial. “Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense,” Mr. Dershowitz said.
A report roiled the Senate on Monday with the claim that Mr. Bolton has written a book manuscript alleging that Mr. Trump told him he paused military aid to Ukraine to compel a corruption investigation of Democrat Joseph R. Biden and his son, Hunter. The president denied the claim, which is at the core of the impeachment articles.
Mr. Dershowitz criticized the Democrats’ articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — as unconstitutionally vague. He called on lawmakers not to vote against Mr. Trump’s personality.
“I respectfully urge you not to let your feelings about one man — strong as they may be — to establish the precedent that would undo the work of our Founders,” he said. “I respectfully urge the distinguished members of this great body to think beyond the emotions of the day, and to vote against impeaching on the unconstitutional articles now before you to remove a duly elected president to prevent the voters from deciding his fate.”
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