Dershowitz: Bolton allegations would not constitute impeachable offense

As reported by TheHill

Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz on Monday said that former national security adviser John Bolton’s reported account of President Trump tying Ukraine military aid to investigations into Democrats would not constitute an impeachable offense.

“If any president had done what The [New York] Times reported about the content of the Bolton manuscript, that would not constitute an impeachable offense,” Dershowitz said during lengthy remarks from the Senate floor Monday night.

“Let me repeat: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense. That is clear from the history. That is clear from the language of the Constitution,” he continued.

“You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using words like ‘quid pro quo’ and ‘personal benefit,'” Dershowitz added.

The remarks represented the Trump legal team’s first explicit response to the explosive report that Trump told Bolton last August he wanted to continue to withhold military assistance to Ukraine until the country helped with investigations, including into former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump has denied telling Bolton that the military aid was tied to investigations into Democrats.

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Bolton’s allegations as reported by the Times roiled the Senate impeachment trial, undercutting a key prong of the president’s defense — namely that he sought no quid pro quo with Ukraine related to the investigations — and putting pressure on Republican senators to vote in favor of calling Bolton as a witness in the trial.

Trump’s attorneys largely ignored the report earlier in the day, with Jay Sekulow saying they would not deal in “speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all” in a vague reference to the report on Bolton’s forthcoming memoir.

Dershowitz, an opinion contributor to The Hill, delivered extensive remarks on the Senate floor Monday night arguing against Trump’s impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Dershowitz laid out his argument in detail that the Constitution requires that impeachable offenses be based on “criminal-like conduct akin to treason and bribery.” The argument has been contested in legal circles, with many arguing that impeachment does not require a crime and that abuse of power can constitute an impeachable offense.

“Purely noncriminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are outside the range of impeachable offenses,” Dershowitz said on the Senate floor, laying out his argument by citing the argument former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis made in the 19th century in defense of former President Andrew Johnson during his impeachment as well as other texts.

Dershowitz claimed that Congress would be placed “above the law” and “above the Constitution” if Trump’s impeachment were accepted by the Senate. He also called abuse of power a “politically loaded” term.