RNA - Attorney Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump's legal team, made the stunning argument on Wednesday during the first day of the question-and-answer session in the Senate trial.
Dershowitz, a retired Harvard University professor, told senators that every politician conflates his own interest with the public interest. “It cannot be impeachable,” he declared.
As US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the trial, Republican Senator Ted Cruz asked Dershowitz if it mattered whether there was a quid pro quo?
Simply, no, declared Dershowitz, who said many politicians equate their reelection with the public good.
"Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest," he said. "And 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."
On Twitter, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, a longtime critic of both Trump and Dershowitz, compared the argument to French King Louis XIV's declaration, "L'état, c'est moi," meaning, "I am the state."
"Accepting this argument would put us on a short path toward dictatorship, benevolent or otherwise. It’s incompatible with the government of, by, and for the people. It’s government by egomania," Tribe said.
University of Michigan law professor Barbara McQuade called Dershowitz's logic "absurd" and said, "If the Senate is to maintain any semblance of a check on presidential abuse, surely it must reject this argument."
The US Senate is expected to wrap up the initial phase of Trump’s impeachment trial on Thursday before turning on Friday to the explosive question of whether to call witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton.
Democrats pressed hard to force the Senate to call more witnesses to testify, but Republicans appeared intently focused on bringing the impeachment trial to a vote of acquittal, possibly in a matter of days.
Democrats argued Bolton’s explosive allegations in his upcoming book cannot be ignored.
Bolton’s unpublished book manuscript directly contradicts Trump’s account of events. Bolton wrote that the president told him he wanted to freeze $391 million in security aid to Ukraine until Kiev pursued investigations into former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Over two days, senators are grilling the House Democrats prosecuting the case and the Republican president’s defense team. Dozens of questions were asked and answered Wednesday.
The Democratic-led House on December 18 impeached Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress arising from his request that Ukraine investigate the Bidens, setting the stage for the Senate trial to determine if he should be removed from office.
While the Republican-controlled Senate is highly unlikely to remove Trump from office, it is important for him to try to blunt the Democratic accusations to limit political damage to his bid for a second term.