Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday hammered the lawyers leading President Trump’s impeachment defense, saying they’ve trampled on the Constitution while questioning how they’ve been allowed to keep their licenses.
“I don’t know how they can retain their lawyer status, in the comments that they’re making,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.
Pelosi was responding largely to comments made Wednesday evening by Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity lawyer on Trump’s legal team, who asserted on the Senate floor that presidents cannot be impeached for actions designed to boost their reelections — if they believe that retaining a grip on the White House is in the best interest of the country. And “every public official I know,” he added, considers that to be the case.
“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,” Dershowitz said.
The exception, said Dershowitz, an opinion contributor to The Hill, would be cases where the conduct violated a specific law. The Democrats’ two impeachment articles, charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, fall outside the federal criminal code.
“The articles of impeachment violate the Constitution,” Trump’s leading lawyers, Jay Sekulow and Pat Cipollone, said at the outset of the Senate trial. “They are defective in their entirety.”
Democrats have vehemently rejected the White House arguments, saying impeachment is an inherently political — not judicial — response designed to protect the country from elected officials who violate the public trust, crime or none. Their impeachment case hinges on allegations that Trump violated that trust in withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine to press the country’s leaders to find dirt on his political rivals.