Speed Reads

Trump Impeachment Watch

Dershowitz tells CNN he wasn't wrong about Clinton's impeachment but is 'far more correct' defending Trump

In 1998, when the Senate held an impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, Alan Dershowitz argued that "if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don't need a technical crime" to impeach. Now that he's part of President Trump's defense team, he argues that "without a crime, there can be no impeachment." Anderson Cooper asked Dershowitz about the apparent discrepancy between those views on CNN Monday night.

Dershowitz said he still believes you don't need a "technical crime," just "criminal-like behavior akin to bribery and treason." He said his argument is consistent, and when Cooper pointed out it isn't, he insisted he "wasn't wrong" in 1998, he just has "a more sophisticated basis for my argument now." Cooper wasn't persuaded by Dershowitz's logic and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin didn't agree with his legal argument that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress aren't impeachable offenses.

"What is clear is that Alan was right in 1998 and he's wrong now," Toobin said. "The idea that you can only impeach a president for criminal or criminal-like behavior is absurd on its face." Dershowitz disagreed and insisted again he hasn't changed his views. "I wasn't wrong, I'm just far more correct now than I was then," he said. "And I think your viewers are entitled to hear my argument without two bullies jumping on everything I say."

Cooper also spoke with Dershowitz's former Harvard Law colleague Lawrence Tribe, who said Dershowitz is clearly wrong and, sadly, appears to be "selling out, I don't think for money but just for attention." He "was a great teacher," Tribe added and "he's perfectly entitled to defend the president, although I don't like that he pretends he's defending the Constitution instead of the president. He's not the Constitution's client."

On MSNBC, former federal prosecutor Maya Wiley agreed that Dershowitz is dangerously "wrong" while anti-Trump conservative Rick Wilson compared Dershowitz to "a prank character on a reality TV show" spouting "performative B.S." on cable news to make his client happy. Watch below. Peter Weber