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Dershowitz: Trump shouldn't be removed from office even if he is guilty of House charges

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Alan Dershowitz
Attorney Alan Dershowitz leaves federal court, in New York on Dec. 2, 2019.   -  
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Richard Drew AP file
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Famed defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who recently signed on to assist President Donald Trump's impeachment legal team, said Sunday that Trump should not be removed from office even if he is guilty of everything the House has accused him of in the articles of impeachment.

"Congress was wrong in impeaching for these two articles," he told ABC's "This Week." "They are not articles of impeachment. The articles of impeachment are two non-criminal actions."

Host George Stephanopoulos then asked, "Is it your position that President Trump should not be impeached even if all the evidence and arguments laid out by the House are accepted as fact?"

Dershowitz responded, "When you have somebody who, for example, is indicted for a crime — let's assume you have a lot of evidence — but the grand jury simply indicts for something that's not a crime, and that's what happened here, you have a lot of evidence, disputed evidence, that could go both ways, but the vote was to impeach on abuse of power, which is not within the constitutional criteria for impeachment, and obstruction of Congress."

Dershowitz was then asked if he agreed with a brief filed by Trump's attorneys on Saturday, which asserted the president did nothing wrong by pushing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats.

"I didn't sign that brief. I didn't even see the brief until after it was filed. That's not part of my mandate," Dershowitz said. "My mandate is to determine what is a constitutionally authorized criteria for impeachment."

Pressed again, Dershowitz said, "There's a big difference between what's OK — what's OK determines ... who you vote for."

"I'm a liberal Democrat who's been critical of many of the policies of the president," he continued. "I'm here as a constitutional lawyer, a lawyer who's taught for 50 years constitutional criminal procedure at Harvard, taught a course on impeachment, taught a course on constitutional litigation."

The president has been steadfast in his insistence that he did nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine, tweeting last week: "I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!"

Democratic House managers in a brief filed Saturday called the president's behavior "the Framers' worst nightmare" and a "danger to our democratic processes." In response, the White House said the two articles of impeachment against Trump are a "dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their President."

Asked about Dershowitz's assessment, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told "This Week" that he agrees with the Harvard law professor "at this point."

"But I would still wait and hear the arguments," Shelby said. "I haven't focused on it. Professor Dershowitz is an esteemed scholar of constitutional law. And he's followed this and he's outspoken, and a lot of people follow him. We have a lot of respect for a lot of his opinions. But ultimately, we will make that decision in the Senate."

Democrats had a different take on Dershowitz's analysis.

"Well, that's the argument I suppose you have to make if the facts are so dead set against you. If the president has admitted to the wrongdoing, his chief of staff has confessed to the wrongdoing, his European Union ambassador has confessed to the same quid pro quo, you have to rely on an argument that even if he abused his office in this horrendous way, that it's not impeachable. You had to go so far out of the mainstream to find someone to make that argument, you had to leave the realm of constitutional law scholars and go to criminal defense lawyers," House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told "This Week," adding that Dershowitz's interpretation "would have appalled the founders."

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., called Dershowitz's remarks "stunning."

"And I don't know what signal we're sending to future presidents if that's the new standard in America, where you can openly solicit foreign interference, where you can hold up taxpayer dollars that, in fact, the Government Accountability Office says was illegal to do so in order to extort, to leverage foreign interference in our elections," he said. "This is preposterous that this would not be an impeachable offense, that this standard in America is now that presidents could abuse their power to help in elections."

And on CBS's "Face the Nation," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said he was "surprised" to see Dershowitz's assessment.

"That's simply ignorance," Nadler, a House impeachment manager, said.

Is it your position that President Trump should not be impeached even if all the evidence and arguments laid out by the House are accepted as fact?

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