*Yiddish: (literally) be healthy, be well; (sarcastic, humorous) “get real,” “have a good life,” “good-bye and don’t come back”
Plus: More “Truth, Justice and the GOP Way
As of this writing, it appears the call for witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald John Trump (I) will end up with a 50-50 vote with only three GOP senators voting for witnesses (Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). A tie vote will result in no witnesses testifying at the trial, including John Bolton, and a vote to remove or acquit scheduled for Friday so that, as Trump (I) has demanded, he will be acquitted before the obligatory Super Bowl interview on Sunday.
Unfortunately, this year’s Super Bowl will be on Fox so the hope that he won’t be interviewed before the biggest audience of the year is pretty, pretty, pretty slim. (With apologies to Larry David)
But I digress. On to Professor Dershowitz.
In a stunning argument, the once-revered Harvard Constitutional law professor and current hack TV lawyer/Trump (I) apologist, said, in an extraordinarily expansive view of executive power, that that any action taken by the president to help his own re-election is, by definition, in the public interest.
Quotes thanks to Jacqueline Alemany of The Washington Post:
“If the president does something that he thinks will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” said Mr. Dershowitz.
“Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. “And mostly, you’re right. Your election is in the public interest.”
The assertion amounted to two things:
- The argument that even if all of Democrats’ impeachment allegations are true — that Mr. Trump(I) was, in fact, seeking election advantage when he demanded that Ukraine investigate his political opponents — it would still be appropriate.
- Trump (I) really can shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it if he decides it’s in the “public interest.”
Dershowitz’s former colleagues, students and fellow lawyers excoriated the Harvard Law School professor emeritus for presenting an argument they warned essentially renders the impeachment process meaningless.
- “It is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard that basically the president can decide that he can bring in foreign assistance in an election and violate the law and extort people and bribe people to what he thinks is in the public interest because it’s in the public interest to get him elected,” said Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor.
- “He argued that if the president shot someone in the public square but believed it was in the public interest, it wouldn’t be an impeachable offense,” said J.W. Verret, a law professor at George Mason University. “But dictators always believe that what they are doing is in the best interest of the public — that’s the essence of an autocracy.”
- Professor Charles Fried, Dershowitz’s old colleague at Harvard Law, remarked that Dershowitz actually made the “very best argument for getting Bolton’s testimony” to determine Trump’s motives and whether they’re “different from in the national interest to be reelected.”
- “Taken at face value, this would include illegal acts — even major felonies,” Ed Larson, a professor at Pepperdine University, said of Dershowitz’s claims. “A president cannot be free to break the law to get himself reelected, even if he feels that unlawful activity would ultimately serve the public interest by his reelection. The framers expressly identified corrupt elections as a grounds for impeachment. Indeed, it was that very concern that brought [Pennsylvania delegate] Gouverneur Morris — the highest of the high federalists, champion of a strong executive, and architect of the electoral selection process — on board with supporting the impeachment power at the constitutional convention.”
So, to commemorate his stunning and frankly, indefensible, position, Around the Block awards Professor Alan Dershowitz with the first Around the Block Zei Gezunt Award.
We close with the next chapter in the on-going saga:
Truth, Justice and the GOP Way
Yesterday, in Truth, Justice and the GOP Way, Republican leaders signaled they were regaining confidence that they would be able to block new witnesses and documents and bring Mr. Trump’s trial to an acquittal as soon as Friday. The No. 3 Republican in the Senate told reporters that if the party won the witness vote, the senators would move directly to vote on the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump.
One of the GOP arguments against calling witnesses (like John Bolton) is “it would take too long.” Which, I suppose is code for, “Trump (I) demanded that he wanted this over before the Super Bowl.”
Or what, he’d make you sit in the corner?