I don’t know about you, but I am getting much more out of the Q&A session in the impeachment trial than I got from the six days of uninterrupted blather from the attorneys.
It turns out you can make a coherent case for or against impeachment on any particular issue in about five minutes. That’s how long the Chief Justice is giving the attorneys to respond to senators. God bless him! Maybe he was a high school debater, where making your case cogently and concisely is a key to taking home trophies.
I suppose I should confess that I did not hear too much of the House managers’ responses today. It is after all hard to catch the nuances of an argument when you are fast forwarding through it, but what I heard sounded a lot like the specious political argument I had sat through for most of 23 hours previously when the House managers presented their trumped-up charges.
But most of what I heard from the House managers was made irrelevant by several arguments posed by the president’s legal counsel.
I could pick out a number of snippets as representative of this higher level of argumentation, but I will focus on just one — the response by Alan Dershowitz to a question about how the framers viewed “abuse of power”in their conversations about impeachment. Dershowitz, a liberal Harvard law professor, explained that the founders did not want to give the Congress the power to remove a president simply because they disapproved on him or his policies.
Dershowitz becomes particularly impassioned when he responds to a slight made earlier by Rep. Adam Schiff, who said that no other legal scholar agrees with Dershowitz’s opinion that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense. Dershowitz first admits that he changed his mind since the Clinton impeachment about whether a crime is required to justify an impeachment.
“You asked what happened between 1998 and the current (time) to change my mind? What happened between the 19th century and the 20th century to change the minds of so many scholars? Let me tell you what happened. What happened is that the current president was impeached!
“If in fact President Obama or ‘President Hillary Clinton’ had been impeached, the weight of current scholarship would be clearly in favor of my position because these scholars do not pass the ‘shoe on the other foot’ test. These scholars are influenced by their own bias, by their own politics, and their views should be taken with that in mind. They simply do not give objective assessments of the constitutional history.”
Listen to Dershowitz for a quick education in constitutional law, and more importantly in intellectual honesty.
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