Dershowitz: If Senate Convicted Trump, It Would Be Open Invitation for One Party to Preclude a Candidate from Another Party from Running

By Melanie Arter | February 15, 2021 | 4:36pm EST
Alan Dershowitz (C), impeachment defense lawyer for US President Donald Trump, attends the announcement of Trump's Middle East peace plan in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 28, 2020.  (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Alan Dershowitz (C), impeachment defense lawyer for US President Donald Trump, attends the announcement of Trump's Middle East peace plan in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 28, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz told Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that Senate Republicans did the right thing in acquitting former President Donald Trump, because the Senate trial was not a referendum on his actions during the Capitol riot, it’s a referendum on the Constitution, and the Constitution won.

“This was a rebuke to 144 alleged scholars who threatened Trump's lawyers and said if you dare to even raise the 1st Amendment defense, that would be legally frivolous, and you could be disciplined and disbarred, and the Senate smacked them down and said not only was it not a legally frivolous defense, it was a valid defense,” Dershowitz said.


“Quite a number of senators voted on 1st Amendment grounds. Others voted on the constitutional limitation, and some voted on the merits. All you need is enough together, and I think the Trump team made a very effective argument at the end saying you don't have to accept the initial vote that the Senate said in that jurisdiction. You could stick to your dissenting vote,” he said.

“Many of them did. You could apply the 1st Amendment. This is not a referendum on Donald Trump's actions … on January 6th. This is a referendum on the Constitution, and the Constitution prevailed and won, and a lot of the media misunderstands it. CNN was saying, oh, it's a contradiction by McConnell. No, it wasn't a contradiction,” Dershowitz said.

“We're smart enough to understand that the 1st Amendment covers speech that you don't agree with, speech that you even condemn and that the Constitution itself places limits on the role of the Senate,” the professor said. 

“If the Senate had voted the other way, it would mean anybody who ever held federal office could be impeached without any statute of limitations, without any limitation of time. It would be an open invitation for one party to preclude a candidate from another party from running. So the Constitution won,” Dershowitz added.

He said that Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “taught us a civics lesson.”

“You don't have to support President Trump or Donald Trump. You don't have to agree with his speech to support the 1st Amendment and to support the Constitution's limitations on the power of the Senate to put a former president on trial. McConnell accepted the constitutional argument I've been making from the very beginning, that Congress has no power to put on trial citizen Trump,” Dershowitz said.

“So it was a very good day for the Constitution, not such a great day for Donald Trump, because McConnell and others criticized him. Look, the reason that they went for witnesses is they counted the votes. They saw that McConnell said he was going to vote to acquit, so they threw a Hail Mary, and it backfired, caused a fumble in the end zone. It totally backfired, because the Trump team said, all right, you call one witness, we'll call 90. We'll have depositions. This trial will never be over,” he said.

“So they backed away and allowed for just a stipulation to go in on a hearsay statement. The result was the right result yesterday, and it was a very, very good day for the Constitution,” Dershowitz added.

Bartiromo asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) why the Democrats pulled back after the witness vote and whether they were afraid that the Trump team would call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“That's exactly why they pulled back, because our side would have called the sergeant of arms. We would have called Officer [Steven] Sund, the former head of the Capitol Hill Police. We would have called Speaker Pelosi, because, ultimately, she's the person in charge at Capitol Hill. She's the speaker of the House, and she's in charge of everything on Capitol Hill,” Jordan said.

“Look, Maria, there are some key facts that the Democrats didn't want to talk about like the fact that the pipe bombs were discovered before the president's speech, like the fact that the FBI knew there was a planned attack, like the fact that the president said peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard, and maybe most important was that Officer Sund had asked for the National Guard to be present there beforehand,” he said.

“So the reason they pulled back was we were going to call those witnesses, and I would agree in part with Mr. Dershowitz. It was a great day for President Trump and a great day for the Constitution. Both were true. How can you impeach somebody for engaging in speech protected by the Constitution as a private citizen?” the congressman said.

“So engaging in speech protected by the Constitution, the very document we're, we take an oath to uphold. That's what the Democrats attempted to undo. So I think it was a good day for the Constitution and a good day for President Trump and the 74 million people who support him,” Jordan added. 

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