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Dershowitz Pushes Himself Away from White House Response to Trump's Charges

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Dershowitz Pushes Himself Away from White House Response to Trump's Charges

2020-01-20 15:32:491 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Alan Dershowitz (Image source: Screenshot)

It's unclear which opinions Alan Dershowitz disagrees with, but he made a point over the weekend of separating himself from the response of two others on Donald Trump's impeachment defense team. Despite defending him, the attorney also admitted he will not be voting for Trump's reelection.

It was announced on Friday that the former Harvard law professor was joining Trump's impeachment team along with former independent counsel for former President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Kenneth Starr. Former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and former special counsel Robert Ray from the Clinton case were also added to the team that is headed up by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow. 

On Saturday the House managers released a 111-page legal brief detailing their case to remove Trump from office after he was impeached last month. This followed several hearings led by the House Intelligence and House Judiciary committees. The brief argues that the president withheld military aid and a White House visit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pressure him to publicly announce he was launching investigations into Trump's political rivals.

Aides to the House managers said they and staff met on Sunday to continue strategizing and refining argument drafts for the trial that officially starts on Tuesday, with opening arguments expected on Wednesday. 

Sekulow and Cipollone issued a seven-page response to the brief stating that there was no legal basis for either of the two articles Trump was impeached on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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

The White House filed its own legal brief detailing why Trump should be acquitted by the Senate on Monday.

In a BBC interview on Saturday, Dershowitz admitted he doesn't plan to vote to reelect Trump in November and said if the Senate votes to acquit him, it will create "ambivalence in me as it does whenever I represent somebody whose acquittal would produce results that make me unhappy as an individual." 

This seems to be what he has to do to live with himself after defending three men who others see as deplorable. He has famously defended accused murderer O.J. Simpson, the guy whose acts started the whole MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein, and  Jeffrey Epstein, whom he defended along with Starr a decade ago, before Epstein's newer charges that locked him up again, leading to his suicide. So now he is placing Trump in the same bucket as O.J., Weinstein, and Epstein.

Dershowitz also told the BBC, "But I would never, ever allow my own partisan views to impact my views on the Constitution." 

He said on Sunday that even if all the facts the Democrats laid out are true, Trump's actions still aren't impeachable offenses, regardless of whether people believe what he did with Ukraine was "wrong."

"If the allegations are not impeachable, then this trial should result in an acquittal, regardless of whether the conduct is regarded as okay by you or by me or by voters," he said on "This Week." "That's an issue for the voters. 

Democrats responded to Dershowitz's comments by saying it was "nonsense." "There is ample evidence, overwhelming evidence," said House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY), one of the seven impeachment managers, on CBS News's "Face the Nation." "Any jury would convict in three minutes flat that the president betrayed his country by breaking the law."

Dershowitz was pressed by CNN's "State of the Union" host Brianna Keilar on his defense of prior clients others might see as "unpalatable." He replied that he was proud of his record of defending "some of the most controversial people in American history." 

The attorney believes that senators and their constituents "understand that it's pure McCarthyism to hold a lawyer responsible for having represented controversial clients."

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