Updated 12 noon
Alan Dershowitz will be presenting oral arguments before the U.S. Senate at the impeachment trial for President Donald Trump. The trial began in earnest on Tuesday.
In a brief cell phone conversation Friday morning, Dershowitz said, “I can confirm that I’ll be presenting oral arguments.”
Dershowitz, a seasonal resident of Chilmark and a professor emeritus at Harvard, has been an outspoken critic of the investigation surrounding Trump by Robert Mueller, and of the House investigation that centered on Ukraine and led to the articles of impeachment.
Dershowitz declined further comment, referring to his statement on Twitter.
“Professor Dershowitz will present oral arguments at the Senate trial to address the constitutional arguments against impeachment and removal,” the tweet states. “While Professor Dershowitz is nonpartisan when it comes to the Constitution — he opposed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, and voted for Hillary Clinton — he believes the issues at stake go to the heart of our enduring Constitution. He is participating in this impeachment trial to defend the integrity of the Constitution and to prevent the creation of a dangerous constitutional precedent.”
Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School and a frequent Island visitor, also weighed in. “My former colleague Alan Dershowitz knows a lot about criminal law, but not much about constitutional law. He’s flashy but not all that substantive. But flashiness isn’t exactly lacking on Team Trump,” Tribe wrote in an email to The Times. “So adding Dershowitz to the defense team suggests that Trump intends to push the argument that impeachable offenses have to be statutory crimes like blackmail or robbery, but that’s definitely wrong, and reflects serious ignorance about how the U.S. Constitution works. For constitutional expertise and legal acumen, I’d pit my own former student Adam Schiff against Alan Dershowitz any day.”
Schiff is a congressman from California and chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. Schiff is the lead prosecutor in the impeachment trial.
Dershowitz will reportedly join Ken Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated President Bill Clinton and has appeared — much like Dershowitz — on network talk shows defending Trump.
In the summer of 2018, Dershowitz made national headlines when he complained that his support of Trump had led to him being shunned at social gatherings on the Vineyard. In an interview in December, Dershowitz said that behavior has continued because of his support of the president. “Oh, definitely, it has continued. The division on the Island is even greater than it is in other places where I live,” he said.
Dershowitz has pointed out in the past that he donated to Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton’s campaign, and that his support of Trump has to do with the constitutional questions at hand.
In September, Vineyarders protested the use of the West Tisbury library as a venue for Dershowitz to talk about his book.
Updated with a comment from Laurence Tribe. -Ed.