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Lawyer Alan Dershowitz Draws Line On His Role In Trump Impeachment Defense

Alan Dershowitz told NPR on Friday he would make constitutional arguments for President Trump at his Senate impeachment trial.
Mark Wilson
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Alan Dershowitz told NPR on Friday he would make constitutional arguments for President Trump at his Senate impeachment trial.

When President Trump's defense team delivers its opening statement in the Senate impeachment trial next week, famed defense attorney Alan Dershowitz will have a starring role.

But in an interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly on Friday, he sought to make clear that his involvement is limited to arguing that the two articles of impeachment do not satisfy the constitutional criteria for removing the president from office.

"I will not be involved in arguing the facts, nor will I be part of the defense team in the sense of strategy on the facts. My role is limited. I am doing precisely the same thing I would be doing had Hillary Clinton — who I voted for — been elected president and had the Republicans try to impeach her," Dershowitz told All Things Considered.

He joins Ken Starr, Robert Ray, Jane Raskin and Pam Bondi on a team led by his private attorney Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

Dershowitz, who consulted with former President Bill Clinton's defense during his impeachment trial, said he would not weigh in on the issue of whether witnesses should be allowed in the Senate trial — an issue being pushed by Democrats and so far resisted by Republicans.

Dershowitz often defends Trump on television, and wrote a book in 2018 called The Case Against Impeaching Trump.He described himself as a liberal Democrat who doesn't agree with Trump's policies on immigration, health care, abortion and other issues.

"But I have never allowed partisanship or politics or my own personal views to intrude into principled decisions about what I will represent, who I will represent, what constitutional arguments I would make," he said.

One of his clients was convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who authorities say killed himself in prison last year where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. One of Epstein's accusers has alleged she was forced to have sex with Dershowitz when she was underage — a charge that Dershowitz has denied. He and his accuser are suing each other for defamation.

Dershowitz said he flagged the issue to Trump and his defense team, who said "that it wouldn't influence the decision and that they're fully aware of the false accusations against me and they're fully aware of the role I played."

"As Jeffrey Epstein's lawyer and as O.J. Simpson's lawyer and as the lawyer for 250 people over a long, long, long career ... nobody who's an experienced lawyer comes on a blank slate," he said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Roberta Rampton is NPR's White House editor. She joined the Washington Desk in October 2019 after spending more than six years as a White House correspondent for Reuters. Rampton traveled around America and to more than 20 countries covering President Trump, President Obama and their vice presidents, reporting on a broad range of political, economic and foreign policy topics. Earlier in her career, Rampton covered energy and agriculture policy.