Dershowitz: 'Kavanaugh is Dead Wrong' on Impeachment, 'He Should Read the Constitution'

By Michael W. Chapman | July 11, 2018 | 5:54pm EDT
Prof. Alan Dershowitz. 
(YouTube, CNN)

When asked about Judge Brett Kavanuagh's view that a president can be impeached for doing something "dastardly," constitutional expert and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said Kavanaugh is "dead wrong" and "he should go back and read the Constitution." Kavanaugh is President Donald Trump's nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

During a July 10 interview on CNN's New Day, host John Berman questioned Dershowitz about Kavanaugh's view on impeachment, which Kavanaugh had explained at length in a 2009 article in The Minnesota Law Review. 

In that article, Kavanaugh argued that, under the Constitution, a sitting president cannot be indicted and tried for a crime because it would cripple the government. Dershowitz agreed with that view, saying, the "Constitution forbids the prosecution of a sitting president because it says you can only prosecute a president after he's been impeached and after he's left office."

As the discussion continued, Berman noted that Kavanaugh has said that "if the president does something dastardly," he can be impeached. 

Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law emeritus at Harvard Law School and the author/co-author of 34 books, said that Kavanaugh is "dead wrong" and "he should go back -- he should read the Constitution."

Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  (YouTube)

"He should read the Constitution," said Dershowitz.  "And I think when he does read the Constitution and when he reads my book, and I will send him a copy of it, he will see I'm right and he's wrong."

"Dastardly is not a criteria for impeachment," said Dershowitz, whose new book is The Case Against Impeaching Trump. "If you allow dastardly to be a criteria for impeachment, then you really create a lawless process. What does dastardly mean? Who defines that?"

Dershowitz stressed that the Constitution is very clear, a president can only be impeached for "Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors." The Constitution says it has to be an "actual crime," explained Dershowitz.

"What do all these things have in common, bribery, treason, high crimes and misdemeanors?" he said.  "They're all crimes. The framers rejected an explicit proposal to make maladministration an impeachable offense, saying we don't want to get the British system where the president serves at the pleasure of Congress. The president should be a strong, independent branch of government."

Dersowitz also argued that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was not needed. 

"[W]e don't need a special counsel," said Dershowitz.  "We have U.S. attorneys offices. We have the inspector general. We have people who are civil servants who have served for 30 years."

Dershowitz continued, "[I]f I were making this argument about President Hillary Clinton, people on Martha's Vineyard would be throwing their arms around me. I'd be the biggest hero. And every liberal would be saying, he's absolutely right."

"I'm making the identical argument, but I'm making it about Donald Trump," he said, "and so I'm wrong" in the eyes of liberals. 

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