The Founding Fathers would not impeach President Donald Trump because they "didn't want the impeachment power to become a political weapon," said Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz.
"That's why they designed both procedural and substantive protections against misuse of this important legislative check on the executive," Dershowitz argued in an op-ed Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal.
"The procedural protection is the requirement of a two-thirds vote for removal, which makes it impossible to remove the president without broad support," he said. "The substantive check is the list of offenses justifying impeachment."
Dershowitz, 81, whose Harvard specialties included constitutional law, said Alexander Hamilton explained that the Fathers agreed to the specific criteria of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" because impeachment should be based on "real demonstrations of innocence or guilt."
"These words imply a quasi-legal process rather than an exclusively political one," Dershowitz said.
"There is an inevitable political component to the decision to impeach and remove a president, but it should come into play only if the objective constitutional criteria are met."
Regarding the House probe of President Trump, Dershowitz said that "obstruction of justice is plainly a high crime, but a president cannot commit it by exercising his constitutional authority to fire or pardon, regardless of his motive.
"Neither is it a crime to conduct foreign policy for partisan or personal advantage — a common political sin with no limiting principle capable of being applied in a neutral manner."
Therefore, impeachment "should be based on 'the real demonstration of innocence or guilt' of 'the accused,'" Dershowitz argued.
"It is left to Congress to be reasonable and conscientious in interpreting the words 'treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors' — a tall order in our hyperpartisan age."
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