Constitutional law scholar Alan Dershowitz addressed Monday the contents of a leaked manuscript from an upcoming book by former national Security Adviser John Bolton during arguments before the Senate.
The New York Times reported Sunday that Bolton’s book will claim that President Donald Trump purposefully tied military aid to Ukrainian to an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Dershowitz, however, argued that even if the “quid pro quo” is true, that still “would not constitute an impeachable offense.”
Citing the work of South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman to bolster his case, Dershowitz contended that politicians “routinely” consider how their “actions will affect their popularity,” and that often “the two concepts overlap.”
“Like all human beings, presidents and other politicians persuade themselves that their actions, seen by their opponents as self-serving, are primarily in the natural interest,” said the former Harvard law professor. “In order to conclude that such mixed motive actions constitute an abuse of power, opponents must psychoanalyze the president and attribute to him a singular self-serving motive. Such a subjective probing of motives cannot be the legal basis for a serious accusation of abuse of power that could result in the removal of an elected president.”
Dershowitz mocked Democratic impeachment managers for trying to get inside the president’s mind.
“Would you want your actions to be probed for what was the real reason why you acted?” he asked. “Even if the president were, and it clearly shows in my mind that the framers could not have intended this psychoanalytic approach to presidential motives to determine the distinction between what is impeachable and what is not.”
Then, Dershowitz turned his attention to the reported revelations in Bolton’s book.
“Even if a president, any president, were to demand a quid pro quo as a condition to sending aid to a foreign country, obviously a highly disputed manner in this case, that would not by itself constitute an abuse of power,” he said before citing a hypothetical case whereby an American president tells an Israeli prime minister that aid to Israel is based on ending settlement building. (RELATED: Tucker Carlson Blasts Neocon ‘Non-Geniuses Like Max Boot And John Bolton,’ Makes The Case Against War With Iran)
“Quid pro quo alone is not a basis for abuse of power,” said Dershowitz. “It’s part of the way that foreign policy has been operated by presidents since the beginning of time. The claim that foreign policy decisions can be deemed abuses of power based on subjective opinions about mixed or sole motives, that the president was interested only in helping himself, demonstrates the dangers of employing the vague subjective and malleable phrase of abuse of power as a constitutional criteria for the removal of a president. Now it follows, it follows from this that if a president, any president were to have done what the Times reported about the content of the Bolton manuscript, that would not constitute an impeachable offense.”