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What's behind Dershowitz's brazen claims

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19.01.2020

Updated 6:48 PM ET, Sat January 18, 2020

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Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst, is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and author of the forthcoming book, "Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party." Follow him on Twitter: @julianzelizer. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.

(CNN)Hours after President Donald Trump announced he was adding Alan Dershowitz to his impeachment legal defense team on Friday, the constitutional lawyer appeared on MSNBC's "The Beat with Ari Melber" and said, "Abuse of power, even if proved, is not an impeachable offense."

Dershowitz was repeating a line of argument that we've heard before from Trump's staunchest defenders. Presidential power is so total and so complete, the argument goes, that there is almost nothing that Trump could do to warrant impeachment.

Dershowitz is offering the legalistic version of Trump's famous 2016 declaration: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters." Dershowitz, who justifies executive power through a dangerous misreading of the Constitution, is likely to use the new incarnation of this argument again during the........

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