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Dershowitz detours into crazy town: Trump believes his re-election is in the national interest, therefore a legitimate quid pro quo.

By Curt Anderson
January 29, 2020 1:04 pm
Category: Law

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Alan Dershowitz, is a very intelligent lawyer and academic. He is a professor of law at Harvard. But, good grief, his legal arguments are sometimes devoid of commonsense and simply absurd. Dershowitz practically said that Trump did extort Zelensky but he is innocent because Trump sincerely thinks it's justified. I will be surprised if Dershowitz's argument isn't replayed over and over on the news and later in political ads against Trump and Republicans.

In today's question and answer session of the impeachment trial, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked whether posing a "quid pro quo" ---conditioning one thing on another--- could ever be appropriate conduct for a president.

You don't have be a lawyer to know the answer to that question. The answer is that obviously not all quid pro quos are inappropriate. If your neighbor asks to borrow your lawnmower, you might reply, that if he returns the mower with the gas tank filled, he can borrow it for the afternoon. That would be an appropriate quid pro quo. If your neighbors asked to use your lawnmower in exchange for not vandalizing your house, that is an inappropriate quid pro quo.

Alan Dershowitz's answered Sen. Cruz by explaining how some quid pro quo are legitimate and some are not. He cited aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal that Trump announced yesterday as being an example of a legitimate quid pro quo. He went on to say in international diplomacy, agreements generally include quid pro quos. Diplomats are expected to work on behalf on their own nation's interest. Likewise it is appropriate for a US president to make deals that are in the national interest.

Few would argue with the preceding explanation. Then Dershowitz took a detour into crazy town. He argued that Trump may think he is the greatest president ever, and therefore Trump can in his own mind believe that it is essential to the nation that he be re-elected. "If the president does something that he thinks will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment," said Dershowitz.

We, as a society, cannot allow what criminals think "in their own mind", no matter how sincere they are in rationalizing their criminality, to be the determination of guilt or innocence. People who commit crimes, from shoplifting to murder, probably convince themselves that they are justified in their actions.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) called. Dershowitz's argument "very odd." I second that appraisal.

"If you say you can't hold a president accountable in an election year where they're trying to cheat in that election, then you are giving them carte blanche," Schiff said. "All quid pro quos are not the same. Some are legitimate and some are corrupt."



The following quote is germane to Trump's and the Republican's fight to keep witnesses from testifying in the impeachment trial.

"The defendant wants to hide the truth because he's generally guilty. The defense attorney's job is to make sure the jury does not arrive at that truth." --Alan Dershowitz


Cited and related links:

  1. cnn.com



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