Dershowitz: never meant that the president can do anything for reelection

The well known lawyer said that most followers of the Senate Impeachment Trial did not actually watch the proceedings, and have relied on deliberately skewed interpretations of his argument.

Famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz (photo credit: REUTERS)
Famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In response to claims that Alan Dershowitz put forward the argument during President Trump's Senate Impeachment trial that the latter can in effect do anything if driven by the belief that it is in the national interest, the well-known lawyer said that media pundits have mischaracterized his statements.
Writing for The Hill, Dershowitz said that most followers of the Senate Impeachment Trial did not actually watch the proceedings, and have relied on deliberately skewed interpretations of his arguments which imply that the president can break the law when in the national interest.
Dershowitz elaborated on the alleged mischaracterization insofar that he was simply providing examples "in response to the argument of the House managers, which was that any action by a politician motivated in part by a desire to be reelected was, by its nature, corrupt." Deliberating between the distinctions of the "national interest" and "pure self-interest," Dershowitz provided three broad categories, "which are pure national interest to help the military, pure corrupt motive to obtain a kickback, and mixed motive to help the national interest in a way that can also help a reelection effort."
Clarifying his response, Dershowitz argues that the last "mixed motive" is a "reality of politics", and that "helping your own reelection effort cannot by itself necessarily be deemed corrupt. Giving historical examples, Dershowitz said that "[he] laid out, as an example, the decision of President Lincoln to send Indiana troops home from the battlefield so they would vote for his party in a state election. He genuinely believed that a victory for his party in Indiana was essential to the war effort, but he also knew it would help him politically."
The nature of the argument, Dershowitz notes, was aimed at showing the inherent open-ended logic that any policy and decision resulting in electoral benefits can be construed as "impeachable."
"Just because a politician has mixed motives for his or her actions, including a desire for reelection which he or she believes is in the national interest, does not prove that politician is corrupt. Even Democrat Adam Schiff, the lead House manager, understood it and responded that there are cases in which mixed motives can be criminal if one of the motives was corrupt," Dershowitz contends.
Dershowitz also accused media pundits of deliberately mischaracterizing his arguments and creating straw men. In his description of the central argument he put forward during the proceedings, Dershowitz claims that the president acted "legally within his authority," which may included actions "like withholding aid, sending soldiers home, or breaking a promise to bomb Syrian military facilities if they use chemical weapons."
In this case, mixed motives, according to Dershowitz, can be used selectively, and is politically dangerous.
Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, is a member of President Trump's legal team.