Fact Check: No, Dershowitz Did Not Say President’s Interest Equals National Interest

U.S. Senate

CLAIM: “Professor Dershowitz, and the other counselors to the president, have argued that if the president thinks that something is in his interest, then it is, by definition, in the interest of the American people.”

VERDICT: False.

Dershowitz argued that if the president takes an action that is otherwise legal, which he believes to be in the national interest, it is not impeachable even if the action is also in his political interest.

Re. Jason Crow (D-CO) opened the final arguments for the House impeachment managers in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Monday morning by misquoting Alan Dershowitz, just as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) did repeatedly last week.

Schiff closed his arguments for new witnesses in the Senate by claiming that Dershowitz believed that a president has a “God-given right to abuse his power.” He even called it the “Dershowitz principle of constitutional lawlessness … a right to be as corrupt as he chooses under our Constitution.”

Crow took it a step further, suggesting Dershowitz and the White House legal team in general saw no distinction whatsoever between the president and the state, and that the president saw himself as above the law.

Here is what Dershowitz actually said.

He began by noting that some forms of a “quid pro quo” were unlawful and impeachable: “The only thing that would make the quid pro quo unlawful would be if the quo were in some way illegal.”

He then explained: “If a president does soehing which he believe will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

The latter case applies where there is no crime-like conduct, as in the case of President Donald Trump.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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