Dershowitz’s retraction on Tuesday follows a feisty exchange with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Jeffery Toobin over resurfaced footage that highlighted the difference between Dershowitz’s arguments at the time of former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and his arguments now as he defends Trump.
“To the extent there are inconsistencies between my current position and what I said 22 years ago, I am correct today,” Dershowitz began his four-part Twitter thread. “During the Clinton impeachment, the issue was not whether a technical crime was required, because he was charged with perjury.”
“To the extent therefore that my 1998 off-the-cuff interview statement suggested the opposite, I retract it,” he concluded. “Scholars learn to adapt and even change old views as they do more research.”
Over the weekend, CNN uncovered footage from 1998 of the defense lawyer and Harvard Law professor emeritus weighing in on the Clinton impeachment process.
“It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime,” he said on CNN at the time. “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.”
Now his view is quite different. Once Dershowitz joined Trump’s legal team last week, he said he planned to argue that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense because it’s not “within the constitutional criteria for impeachment.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, he argued that “without a crime, there can be no impeachment,” giving a glimpse into Trump’s defense team’s arguments.
In the testy exchange with Cooper and Toobin on Monday evening, Dershowitz accused the pair of being “bullies” trying to “nitpick” what he said when they repeatedly pressed him to explain his flip-flop.
Dershowitz claimed in the interview that while he “wasn’t wrong” back then, he is “much more correct right now, having done more research.”
Trump is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his dealings with Ukraine and subsequent efforts to block investigations by Congress.
On day one of the Senate impeachment trial, Trump’s legal team offered a number of defenses based on often inaccurate or misleading claims, largely attacking Democrats for how they had conducted impeachment proceedings.