Now We Know Why Dershowitz Defended Trump During Impeachment

Screengrab / PBS NewsHour / YouTube


Alan Dershowitz could have been angling for a pardon in case New York prosecutors' Epstein probe leads to indictments.

Alan Dershowitz, the well-known defense attorney who formerly represented accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, confused many of his peers when he agreed to represent President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial.

  • Dershowitz put forth an argument against Trump’s impeachment that was not accepted by serious constitutional scholars, lawyer Steven J. Harper noted in a New York Times op-ed earlier this year. And the argument also flew in the face of Dershowtiz’s previous statements regarding impeachable offenses.

Two months before President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings began in 1998, Larry King asked Mr. Dershowitz whether he agrees that “some of the most grievous offenses against our constitutional form of government may not entail violations of the criminal law.”

“I do,” he answered. If those offenses “subvert the very essence of democracy.”

In the same interview, Mr. Dershowitz also said: “It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty. You don’t need a technical crime. We look at their acts of state. We look at how they conduct the foreign policy. We look at whether they try to subvert the Constitution.”

  • But when it came to Trump, Harper wrote, Dershowitz insisted that an “actual crime” was required to justify impeaching a president and that abusive or obstructive conduct is not impeachable.
  • The attorney claimed to be protecting the Constitution, “but serious constitutional scholars didn’t buy his argument.”
  • Constitutional law expert Laurence H. Tribe wrote in response at the time: “The argument that only criminal offenses are impeachable has died a thousand deaths in the writings of all the experts on the subject,” he wrote. “There is no evidence that the phrase ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ was understood in the 1780s to mean indictable crimes.”
  • “No serious constitutional scholar has ever agreed with” the notion that a president cannot be impeached for “abuse of power,” Tribe noted.

Harper said he was “not suggesting that Mr. Dershowitz is corrupt” but that “he doesn’t seem to be protecting the Constitution or fighting for anything that looks like justice”; however, new developments in a separate case might shed light on Dershowitz’s motive in defending the president.

  • Newly released court documents related to longtime Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell include allegations that Dershowitz participated in the now-deceased financier’s sex trafficking operation and sexually abused an underage girl on numerous occasions.
  • The plea deal Dershowitz helped secure for Epstein in Florida in 2008 provided immunity from federal charges to “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein,” the documents claim, which would include Dershowitz had he participated in the scheme.
  • Dershowitz’s defense of the president during his impeachment may have been an attempt to curry favor with Trump in hopes of an eventual pardon should his alleged involvement in Epstein’s trafficking operation lead to legal troubles as New York prosecutors continue probing the convicted sex offender’s dealings.

Dershowitz has maintained that the allegations against him are untrue.


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