“His [Dershowitz’s] argument seemed unbelievable: as long as the President thinks his reelection will benefit the country, he can do anything in pursuit of it without fear of impeachment.”
The New Yorker —January 30, 2020
Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz shocked the impeachment trial with his legal theory suggesting that the President can do just about anything he wants and that the Senate has no authority to stop him.
However, anyone who has performed a quick search of the retired Harvard Law professor’s writings will not be shocked in the least. Herewith just a few of his recent pronouncements:
“Murder? Schmurder” (The Journal of Criminal Silliness, March 2018)
As any legal scholar knows, there must be criminal intent, or what we experts call mens rea, to be charged with murder. Thus, if an accused proclaims that he never intended to kill the victim notwithstanding his purchase of a firearm, a handwritten note to that effect and several reliable witnesses, he cannot be charged, much less convicted, of murder. Likewise, it stands to reason that he also cannot be charged with any included offense such as manslaughter or criminal negligence. An innocent mind means you won’t do the time.
“The Haberdashery Defence” (Unusual Legal Defences, September 2009)
Prior to the trial of O. J. Simpson, the field of exculpatory wearing apparel was rarely, if ever, considered in criminal matters. The verdict in that case, however, has helped to establish a growing field of criminal jurisprudence based on what an accused did or didn’t wear. As my colleague Johnnie Cochran so ably recited the lines I penned: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” That line of reasoning has now expanded beyond mere gloves to any and all wearing apparel that might have been found at a crime scene as in: “If you can’t wear the shirt, you won’t wear the crime.” “If the hat’s not your size, it was some other guy.” “Formal wear at the scene? Then your record’s clean.”
“Article II Looks Good On You” (The Journal of Bizarre Constitutional Arguments, December 2012)
All you have to do is read Article II and it becomes abundantly clear that the President has the power to essentially do whatever he wants. Section 2 makes him the Commander in Chief and it also gives him the unrestricted right to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States. Thus, even if he somehow could be convicted of a crime, all he need do is pardon himself. Some will nitpick and say that Section 2 provides an exception for Cases of Impeachment but that makes no sense since impeachment is effectively a charge and not a conviction.
“Because I Said So” (TV Legal Commentators Monthly, October 2016)
I think it should go without saying that if a legal scholar asserts a legal doctrine on a national news network with a viewership of more than ten million, then that legal doctrine has the force and effect of law. This is particularly so with respect to Fox News, a well-respected media outlet that would not jeopardize its sterling reputation by inviting on a guest with little or no expertise. A corollary to this rule is that the more times you appear on a particular network, the more substantial your position. I, for example, have been on Fox News dozens, if not hundreds, of times but who’s counting?
“Clever Legal Ploys” (Shiny Objects Weekly, November 15, 2010)
An absolute must in any criminal lawyer’s arsenal is a quiver full of distractions to be employed when the opposing side trots out its strongest argument. Most legal commentators would submit that the facts of a case are transcendent but that’s why they are merely commentators and not world famous litigators like me. As I used to say to my late friend Jeffrey Epstein: “If it walks like a minor and talks like a minor, then it’s best to avoid the question and duck.”