I obviously didn’t cover all eight hours of the Q&A yesterday, and I won’t again today.
But I did catch the big thing, where Alan Dershowitz argued that if the president does something in the public interest that he believes will help him get re-elected, that is not impeachable unless it is an articulated crime.
They characterized my argument as if I had said that if a president believes that his re-election was in the national interest, he can do anything. I said nothing like that, as anyone who actually heard what I said can attest.— Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) January 30, 2020
Exact words: “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.”
Not literally “anything,” @AlanDersh — just anything that’s not in the criminal code. Like promising Putin that, if Russia helps the president win re-election, he’ll veto any future sanctions against its oligarchs. The media understood you perfectly. Stop whining & get a grip. https://t.co/dNwhnofyU9— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 30, 2020
Hard to believe Dershowitz’s defenses of OJ and Jeffrey Epstein wouldn’t be the low point of his career, but here we are— Ben Wexler (@mrbenwexler) January 30, 2020
This morning on CNN there was a Marshall MacLuhan moment. In his defense of Trump yesterday, Dershowitz repeatedly cited the legal theories of one Nikolas Bowie. This morning, much to the delight of CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, the actual Nikolas Bowie showed up to shoot down everything Dershowitz said.
What else happened yesterday? Chief Justice John Roberts communicated to senators that he will not read aloud the alleged Ukraine whistleblower’s name or otherwise publicly relay questions that might out the official, a move that effectively blocked Sen. Rand Paul from asking a question. Heh.
But in other impeachment news, it looks like Senate Republicans have the votes to block testimony from any witnesses, especially Bolton. But a tied vote is not impossible to imagine. Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine are the firmest Republicans in favor of voting for witnesses. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has expressed some interest in hearing from former national security adviser John Bolton but has been less committal. If those three joined all 47 Democrats, the vote would be tied, and would fail under the rules, unless Roberts weighs in.
Will he? Republicans and Democrats alike have been confident that Roberts would not break a tie vote during Trump’s impeachment trial, citing past precedent, the Constitution and their own gut feelings about how it would play in a polarized nation.