If you asked me to explain the many twists and turns the impeachment trial has taken in the last few days, I would fail catastrophically. But, something I do understand quite comprehensively, is that Alan Dershowitz is dumb as hell, and thankfully, everyone seems to agree with me!
Yesterday, Dershowitz, who is unfortunately the most vocal member of Trump’s legal team, rolled a confounding new legal strategy for his client. As he told the Senate: “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” Specifically, he was referring to Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine into investigating his political opponent Joe Biden, which he sees not as a crime, but an act of public service in accordance with the office of the president.
Unsurprisingly, the tidal wave of criticism against this line of thinking was swift. NBC News reports that in a press conference today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer labeled the new legal strategy a “load of nonsense,” and claimed that by Dershowitz’s logic, Nixon would have been unimpeachable for the Watergate scandal. Legal scholars also took issue with the characterization of the president’s powers, like Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law School. In response to Dershowitz, he told NBC News: “It means that a president could break any law or abuse any power and say that it was for the public interest, because the public interest would be served by his or her election.”
Since yesterday, Dershowitz has performed a series of mental backflips and walk-backs on Twitter to explain his perplexing rationale:
In later tweets, he wrote that most incumbent presidents seeking re-election are motivated by “mixed” interests, and “helping the national interest in a way that helps your re-election efforts.” In an op-ed for The Hill published this afternoon, he continued:
Mixed motives are always matters of degree and, if they become a criteria for impeachment, they can be used selectively against certain candidates and not others. That is the danger to which I was alluding. But instead of reporting on this danger, the anti-Trump media couldn’t resist the temptation to deliberately distort and mischaracterize it. This deliberate distortion is a symptom of our times. And it explains why dialogue and debate about controversial, interesting ideas are becoming more difficult in our divisive age.
What I fail to understand here is how Dershowitz defines “corrupt.” He seems to have a pretty loose understanding of it, since pressuring foreign leaders into investigating your political rivals and opportunistically withholding military aid doesn’t count as “corrupt” motives. Following Dershowitz’s logic, any incumbent president vying for re-election can tie up an impeachment trial if they argue what they did was for the good of the people, a.k.a. getting them re-elected. Coincidentally, this is also what Dershowitz claims he is not saying. Funny how that works! [NBC News]
In further impeachment news, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily stalled today’s hearing after Republican goon Rand Paul submitted a question about the whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment investigation.
AP reports that the Kentucky senator’s question pertained to a plot against the president by House staff aides, in collusion with the whistleblower. When Chief Justice Roberts was handed the question, however, he declared: “The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted.” According to sources who spoke to the outlet, Roberts’s staff had told Mitch McConnell’s staff that Roberts would not expose the whistleblower on the floor of the Senate.
This clearly did not sit well with Paul, who immediately tweeted that there was a conspiracy afoot between “individuals who were holdovers from the Obama National Security Council and Democrat partisans.” He then went on to name various individuals he saw as players in said conspiracy against the president.
If anything, Rand Paul proves again and again that his neighbor definitely was justified in kicking the shit out of him back in 2017. Once a stunt queen, always a stunt queen! [AP News]
Poor little Pete Buttigieg got ratio’d.
- Noted evil person Wilbur Ross said some horribly racist stuff about coronavirus. [Politico]
- Speaking of: WHO has declared coronavirus a global health emergency. [NBC News]
- Farm bankruptcies continue to rise—nothing to see here! [CNN]
- New evidence shows that the majority of voters are in favor of decriminalizing sex work. [The Intercept]
- Texas’s attorney general will not defend the state’s Commission on Judicial Misconduct after it issued nonbinding warnings to judges who refused to marry same sex couples. Ken Paxton, the state’s AG, claims defending the CJM would conflict with his Republican values. Sure, dude! [NBC News]
- Oh, good. Mike Pompeo claims the Chinese government is the “central threat of our times.” [New York Times]
- The people who run jails love making money off of prisoners. [ProPublica]
- A bunch of Republicans are really worried about the impeachment trial, obviously. [Politico]
- Black women still disproportionately account for maternal mortality rates. [NBC News]
- Tennessee lawmaker has filed a bill that would recognize CNN and the Washington Post as ‘fake news.’ [WSET]
- Trump allies are literally handing out cash to potential voters. [Politico]