After Blowback, Dershowitz Walks Back Alarming ‘Public Interest’ Defense Of Trump

Attorney Alan Dershowitz, a member of President Donald Trump's legal team, speaks to the press during the Senate impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol on January 29, 2020. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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January 30, 2020 11:42 a.m.

Alan Dershowitz, one of President Donald Trump’s impeachment lawyers, claimed on Thursday that the media “willfully distorted” his shocking argument that presidents can do whatever they want to get reelected because said reelection is “in the public interest”–even though that’s precisely the argument he made.

“They characterized my argument as if I had said that if a president believes that his re-election was in the national interest, he can do anything,” he wrote in a long series of tweets. “I said nothing like that, as anyone who actually heard what I said can attest.”

Dershowitz insisted that his argument was merely that a president was allowed to have a “mixed motive,” which he defined as helping “the national interest in a way that helps your reelection efforts.”

The lawyer claimed (without presenting evidence) that former presidents Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln had “mixed motives” when the former broke his promise that he would bomb Syria and the latter sent troops to Indiana during the Civil War.

“I did not say or imply that a candidate could do anything to reassure his reelection, only that seeking help in an election is not necessarily corrupt, citing the Lincoln and Obama examples,” Dershowitz tweeted.

Except that’s exactly what he argued on Wednesday when he was defending Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.

“Your election is in the public interest,” the attorney said. “And 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’s defense immediately sent shockwaves throughout the political sphere, which is likely what prompted the Dershowitz tweet screed.

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