comScore Joe Lockhart Slams Argument That Trump Can't Be Impeached

Joe Lockhart Calls Out Dershowitz’s Argument Against Impeachment: ‘This Is What You Hear from Stalin,’ Mussolini, Hitler

Former Clinton White Houser press secretary Joe Lockhart called out Trump defense attorney Alan Dershowitz’s audacious argument against impeaching President Donald Trump, noting that the Harvard law professor’s logic resembles the language dictators use to justify all manner of unspeakable acts.

Speaking with CNN’s Erin Burnett, Lockhart recoiled at Dershowitz’s stunningly broad argument that, because Trump thought his own re-election was in the “national interest,” he should not have been impeached by the House since that does not rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor.

“Having worked on about a dozen campaigns, there is always the sense that, ‘Boy, if we win, it’s better for the country,'” Lockhart explained. “But that doesn’t give you license to commit crimes or to do things that are unethical. So, it was absurd. And what I thought when I was watching it was, this is un-American. This is what you hear from Stalin. This is what you hear from Mussolini, Hitler, all the authoritarian people who rationalized, in some cases genocide, based on what was in the public interest. It was a startling — and I still can’t believe he went on the floor of the Senate and made that argument.”

Later on in the segment, Scott Jennings, a former advisor to Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, circled back to Lockhart’s claims and chastised him for inappropriately comparing vicious fascist and Communist dictators to Trump.

“I have to respond to something that my friend Joe said. I’m not there to elbow him in the ribs. I don’t think it’s appropriate, frankly, to compare the President of the United States to Stalin and Hitler, ” Jennings said. “I don’t think anything this president’s done, the Democrats have done, either legal teams have done rises to the level of Stalin, Hitler, and people who commit genocide. I think that to me is not a proper comparison honestly.”

Lockhart, however, pushed right back, pointing out that he had not, in fact, compared Trump to those tyrants.

“I said that argument, that rationalization is exactly the rationalization that these authoritarian dictators make, which is we will do these things because, ‘Yes, they’re in my interest, but it’s in the public interest,'” Lockhart explained. “So, again, you know, I learned long ago not to disparage people without the receipts. So, Scott’s right. You shouldn’t compare the president to any of those people, but I didn’t. I compared the argument. And what’s shocking about it is that Alan Dershowitz made it on the floor of the Senate. Again, if I had inadvertently compared Trump to any of those people, Scott, I would say ‘I got it wrong, I apologize.’ I didn’t get this wrong, because it is that argument that’s so dangerous that you can commit any act as long as, in your head, you believe it’s good for the country.”

“Our political system would literally break down,” Lockhart added, teasing out the Machiavellian implications, “because you would have 535 lawless people all using the argument that ‘I’m good for my constituents so I’m going to go…’ or a president saying ‘I’m running against — this guy is blocking my legislation, I’m going to get the IRS to audit their taxes because the legislation is good for the country.’ We can’t have that.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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