Susan B. Glasser writes in the New Yorker about Alan Dershowitz’s bizarre defense of Trump in the impeachment “process” (not a trial, which has witnesses and evidence). Dershowitz is  criminal defense attorney, not a Constitutional lawyer. He also had the dishonor of being in pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s black book of clients, which he denies.

His defense is that Trump is above the law. He is like an emperor or a king or a dictator. He can do, as Trump himself asserted, whatever he wants.

 

An hour into the Senate trial of Donald John Trump on Wednesday, the emeritus Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz came to the floor to answer a question from a former Harvard law student, Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas. In theory, it was a question that went to the heart of the impeachment case against Trump, about the President’s imposition of a quid pro quo on military aid to Ukraine and whether his motivations mattered. Dershowitz had something larger and more profound to say, however: Donald Trump has the power to do just about anything he wants to do, and there’s nothing that the U.S. Senate can or should do about it.

For more than a week, House managers prosecuting the impeachment case against Trump have argued that the Senate’s failure to convict him would make Trump an unaccountable leader; in effect, a dictator or a king. When Dershowitz spoke, it was as if he completely agreed with them. Two days earlier, Dershowitz had told senators that Presidential “abuse of power” should not be considered an impeachable offense under the Constitution. On Wednesday, he took that further—much further. “If a President does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” he argued. Dershowitz was offering Trump—and all future Presidents—a free pass. His argument seemed unbelievable: as long as the President thinks his reëlection will benefit the country, he can do anything in pursuit of it without fear of impeachment. Really?

Trump has already said that he considers himself empowered by Article II of the Constitution “to do whatever I want.” Video of this extraordinary moment has been played, repeatedly, by House managers in the trial. They clearly saw it as a damning statement made by a power-grabbing President—and then the President’s counsel, in effect, endorsed Trump’s power grab on the floor of the Senate. So long as Trump believes himself to be acting in the national interest, Dershowitz said, he can do whatever he wants. If the past three years have taught us anything, it is that Trump is a President who is comfortable conflating his own interest with the national interest. L’état, c’est Trump.

As matters now stand, it appears that the Republican majority in the Senate agrees that Trump can do whatever he wants. In effect, they are abandoning their responsibility as Senators to hold the president accountable.

Someday Trump will get his comeuppance. If not now, in good time. We cannot let one coarse ignorant bully destroy our democracy.