Chris Wallace Grills Dershowitz About Flipping on Impeachment Stance: ‘You Said It Doesn’t Have to Be a Crime’


Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz faced a bruising interview on Sunday when confronted with his abandoned position that a federal crime isn’t necessary to form the legitimate basis to impeach the president.

Dershowitz, who’s working with Donald Trump’s legal team to argue against his impeachment, told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that House Democrats “completely failed” to reach the Constitutional standards for removing the president over the Ukraine scandal.

“Even if the factual allegations are true, which are highly disputed and which the defense team will show contrary evidence…they did not allege impeachable offenses,” said Dershowitz. “So there can’t be a constitutionally authorized impeachment.”

As Dershowitz laid out the historical precedents he’s using as the basis for his argument, Wallace called several of them into question before quoting Alexander Hamilton and George Mason arguing that the violation of a criminal statute “is not essential to impeachment.”

From there, Dershowitz disputed Wallace on how misconduct and abuse of power “absolutely [do] not” meet the Framers’ standards for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“When Clinton was being impeached, people who opposed plaintiff’s impeachment cited the same quote as saying ‘No, no, no, that shows you have to narrow it, not broaden it.’ He was saying as the subjects of the jurisdiction, namely high crimes and misdemeanors, treason, bribery, those are crimes that involve public people, they are political in nature, they are abuse of power. Hamilton wasn’t trying to expand the criteria from the constitutional criteria. He was actually trying to contract it.”

After Dershowitz argued that Trump’s actions did not involve a breach of public trust, Wallace invoked Dershowitz’s now-disowned position that there doesn’t need to be a crime in order to impeach a president for corrupting the office and abusing that trust.

“I find it very hard to believe you hadn’t studied the only other impeachment in history, which was the Johnson impeachment,” Wallace said. “So suddenly discovering that the key issue is what Justice Curtis argued in 1860, you’re too good a lawyer not to have studied that back in 1998.”

“Remember,” Dershowitz replied, “in 1998 the is not whether you need a crime because President Clinton was charged with a crime…”

“We just put the sound bite up where you said it doesn’t have to be a crime,” Wallace interjected.

“I’ve been immersing myself in dusty old books and I’ve concluded that no, it has to be a crime, it doesn’t have to be a technical crime,” said Dershowitz. “That’s what scholars do that’s what academics do.”

“Its also what lawyers do,” Wallace responded, “which is, depending on the facts of the case and the side they’re arguing, they find an argument to make.”

Watch above, via Fox News Sunday.

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