Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz said that the House violated the Constitution while impeaching President Donald Trump but they are immune from lawsuits.
Dershowitz said the House committed six independent violations of the Constitution when they voted to impeach President Trump on Jan. 13 while the president did not commit any impeachable offenses.
“They violated the free speech provision. They violated the impeachment criteria. They violated the bill of attainder. They violated due process, on and on and on,” Dershowitz told Newsmax.
However, Dershowitz said that lawmakers have protection from culpability for what they do on the Senate floor.
“But the only sanction is to vote them out of office and to bring them to trial in the court of public opinion,” Dershowitz told host Carl Higbie. “Senators and congressmen are immune from lawsuits for what they do or say on the floor of the Senate, so there can’t be any personal lawsuits.”
“How can you impeach a president for a speech that is constitutionally protected?” he said.
In lightning-quick proceedings, House Democrats, joined by 10 Republicans, voted to impeach President Trump on Wednesday for “incitement of insurrection.” They contended the president incited the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol though he called for his supporters to protest “peacefully and patriotically.”
Pelosi has yet to decide when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. In 2019, she held onto the articles for several weeks in a standoff with the Republican-led Senate.
“In terms of the timing, as I mentioned, one week ago, on January 6th, there was an active insurrection perpetrated on the capitol of the United States incentivized by the President of the United States,” Pelosi said on Friday. “One week later, Wednesday to Wednesday, that President was impeached in a bipartisan way by the House. So urgent was the matter they’re now working on taking this to trial, and you’ll be the first to know when we announce that we’re going over there.”
The Senate trial is likely to begin after President Trump leaves the office. Some legal experts argue holding an impeachment trial violates the Constitution when he’s a private citizen.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is reportedly telling senators their decision on whether to convict the outgoing president will be theirs alone.
According to Newsmax, at least four Republican senators believe there’s no question that President Trump committed impeachable offenses, but others have signaled their preference to move on.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said he opposes impeachment against a former president while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called for an investigation into the Capitol breach as an alternative to conviction.
President Trump is the first president to be impeached twice. No president has ever been convicted in the Senate, and it would require a two-thirds vote to do so.
Dershowitz, who defended President Trump at his first Senate impeachment trial, said the impeachment should die in the Senate as it did the last time.
“The Constitution is very clear, the purpose of impeachment is removal,” he said. “The Senate cannot try an ordinary citizen.”