Politics

Dershowitz Cautions GOP Against Rosenstein Impeachment Precedent

'It really will backfire,' especially if Democrats retake Congress following the 2018 midterm elections, the Harvard professor warned

House Republicans were “shortsighted” and “stupid” to introduce articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which will “really backfire” if Democrats take the House and move to remove President Donald Trump, Alan Dershowitz warned Thursday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

“It is the most shortsighted, and I have to say stupid, thing I’ve heard in a long time,” Dershowitz said. “Here we have a president who the Democrats are trying to impeach. If they gained the House of Representatives, they will almost certainly do so. And the big issue will be, can you impeach a president or anyone else when you don’t charge him with specific crimes, just because you disagree with what he has done?”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and nine other GOP House members introduced the articles of impeachment against Rosenstein late Wednesday.

The 11 lawmakers accused Rosenstein of committing various “high crimes and misdemeanors,” including the failure to comply with congressional subpoenas, intentionally withholding redacted information and documents Congress members have the constitutional right to see, and abusing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“Quite frankly, it’s either we hold [Rosenstein] in contempt, or we get the documents, or we impeach him. And the only thing that we have control over is the ability to bring impeachment straight to the floor,” Meadows said Wednesday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

“Why do we have to dig so deep to find out information that should come free-flowing if we’re really interested in justice?” Meadows asked.

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But Dershowitz urged the lawmakers against going down the impeachment path.

“Now, you have the Republicans making the case for the Democrats, who want to impeach the president, by offering bills of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein that don’t charge crimes,” said Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor emeritus and author of the book “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.”

“I’m going to have to write a new book called ‘The Case Against Impeaching Rod Rosenstein’ because the same arguments apply,” Dershowitz said. “This is so shortsighted.”

Related: It’s ‘Up to’ Rosenstein if He’ll Be Impeached, Meadows Says

Dershowitz said impeaching Rosenstein would be a terrible precedent because it would open the door for the current party in power at any given time to “use impeachment to go after their enemies.” Instead, GOP lawmakers should go after Rosenstein by holding him in contempt, Dershowitz suggested.

“The big victim is the American public,” Dershowitz lamented. “Impeachment is supposed to be there for serious crimes: treason, bribery, other high crimes and misdemeanors.

“If you don’t like the way Rod Rosenstein is responding to your subpoena, charge him with contempt of court, bring him to court, but do not use impeachment. That just helps the Democrats who are trying to impeach President Trump.”

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