Dershowitz: ‘Any citizen’ would find Ukraine quid pro quo ‘troubling if it were proved’
Alan Dershowitz, a member of President Trump’s defense team in his Senate impeachment trial, said Sunday that the president tying military aid to Ukraine to investigations of his rivals would be “troubling if it were proved” but that “troubling is not the criteria for impeachment.”
“On Election Day, as a citizen, I will allow that to enter into my decision,” Dershowitz said when asked by Fox News’s Chris Wallace if he would find the alleged quid pro quo at the center of the impeachment fight “troubling.”
Pressed by Wallace on whether he personally would be troubled, Dershowitz responded, “Of course any citizen would find that troubling if it were proved. Troubling is not the criteria for impeachment. … According to [House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam] Schiff [D-Calif.], unless you do the right thing, you’re impeachable.”
“If a president linked aid to an ally to personal benefit that was not in the public interest, that would be wrong,” he added. “That would be a reason for him not to vote for him.”
“You seem to be saying that what Donald Trump did was wrong and troubling but it wasn’t impeachable,” Wallace countered.
“No, what you said is if a president did it solely for his own interest” Dershowitz began before Wallace responded, “I never used the word solely.”
“I’m using it,” Dershowitz replied, using the example of the firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, saying that while former Vice President Joe Biden was following official U.S. policy when he pushed for the firing, he also may have considered its benefit to his son Hunter Biden “in the back of his mind.” Shokin was not investigating Burisma, the natural gas company on whose board Hunter Biden sat, while the younger Biden was on the board.
Dershowitz has spent much of the past week defending an argument he made Wednesday from the Senate floor that actions a president takes to win reelection are not impeachable as long as they haven’t committed a criminal act and believe their election is in the public interest. The following day, defending his argument, he said a president’s conduct is not impeachable if he has at least a “mixed motive” that is focused both on political gain and the national interest.
The theory was slammed by Democrats and several legal experts, but Dershowitz has since insisted the media and Democrats “willfully distorted” his words.
“They characterized my argument as if I had said that if a president believes that his reelection was in the national interest, he can do anything,” Dershowitz, an opinion contributor to The Hill, said on Twitter Thursday.
“I said nothing like that, as anyone who actually heard what I said can attest,” he added.