Jan. 26 (UPI) — Lawyer Alan Dershowitz said Sunday that he believes President Donald Trump must be charged with a crime to be removed from office, a reversal of his comments in 1998 during the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s defense team, said Democrats had not made a sufficient case to charge the president with a crime as they presented their arguments in 24 hours over three days.
“The conduct has to be criminal in nature — it can’t be abuse of power, it can’t be obstruction of Congress,” he said referring to the two charges laid out in the articles of impeachment against Trump. “Those are precisely the arguments that the framers rejected.”
Republicans presented their case for two hours on Sunday and will continue for up to 22 hours of arguments on Monday and Tuesday.
Dershowitz went on to describe the charges against Trump as “vague” and “open-ended.”
“Even if the factual allegations are true — which are highly disputed and which the defense team will show contrary evidence — bet even if true, they did not allege impeachable offenses,” he said. “So there can’t be a constitutionally authorized impeachment.”
Host Chris Wallace noted that this stance contradicted Dershowitz’ comments during Clinton’s impeachment, playing a clip from an interview in which he said “you don’t need a technical crime” to impeach a president.
“I did say that then and then I’ve done all the extensive research,” Dershowitz said. “I’ve been immersing myself in dusty old books and I’ve concluded that no, it has to be a crime.”
Trump sent out a flurry of tweets on Sunday morning, describing the impeachment trial as a “hoax” and praising his defense.
“In just two hours the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, have seen their phony case absolutely shredded,” he wrote.
Early on Sunday Trump also wrote that House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff has “not paid the price, yet for what he has done to our Country,” in reference to the impeachment trial.
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Schiff described Trump as a “vindictive” president and said he believes the tweet was “intended to be a threat.”
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about it and if you think there is, look at the president’s tweets today about me saying I should ‘pay a price,'” said Schiff.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham denied that the tweet was a treat in an interview with Fox News, saying the “price” would come in the form of support from voters.
“I think that people and this has been a theme actually throughout this process, people put meanings behind what he says,” said Grisham. “The president speaks in a very unique way, he’s a counterpuncher, he’s saying what it’s on his mind.”
Schiff also said that Trump’s legal team attempted to convince senators that “you don’t need a fair trial” including witnesses with first-hand knowledge of accusations against Trump.
“If they are successful in depriving the country of a fair trial, there is no exoneration,” Schiff said. “Americans will recognize that the country did not get what the founders intended.”
Schiff also defended his decision to evoke a CBS News report that Republican senators’ heads would be on a “pike” if they break with Trump in the impeachment trial, saying he wanted to speak candidly about the difficulty Republican senators could face.
“It is going to be very difficult for some of these senators to stand up to this president. It really is. There’s just no question about it,” Schiff said. “I want to acknowledge that and I don’t want to acknowledge that in a way that is offensive to them, but I do want to speak candidly about it.”
Schiff added that “if this weren’t an issue” Republican senators should have no problem calling witnesses for the trial.
“If we can’t even get the senators to agree to call witnesses in a trial, it shows you just how difficult that moral courage is,” he said.
Senators are expected to vote early this week to compel witnesses, which would require a vote from all of the Democrats in the chamber as well as four Republicans.