Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz defended an argument he made during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial suggesting that seeking political favors from Ukraine was legal and not impeachable.
In an appearance Sunday on Fox News, Dershowitz said his comments were “deliberately wrenched out of context” and that he was trying to show that there a number of presidential motivations in play
“If the president did something completely lawful, the fact that part of his motivation may have been about his election, cannot be quid pro quo,” he explained.
Dershowitz was widely criticized by Democrats after he appeared to argue that whatever any president does on behalf of reelection could be justified as in the national interest.
The comments further enflamed Democrats who say that President Trump’s actions involving Ukraine were an abuse of power.
“I don’t believe that a president can do anything if he thinks it’s in the national interest,” Dershowitz clarified.
Separately, Dershowitz noted earlier that joining President Trump’s impeachment team has cost him personally.
“This is the worst controversy I have ever been in politically,” Dershowitz, 81, said.
“I have some family members who won’t talk to me, I have some friends who have refused to have anything to do with me. But it shows me who my real friends are,” he said.
During his presentation on the floor of the Senate on behalf of the president last week, Dershowitz argued that the Constitution requires that a president has to have broken the law — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — in order to justify impeachment.
That differs from the argument he made on behalf of President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial in 1998, however.
“What happened since 1998 is that I studied more, did more research, read more documents, and, like any academic, altered my views,” Dershowitz explained during the trial.