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Alan Dershowitz, Elizabeth Warren clash over arguments in impeachment trial

Alan Dershowitz.MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Harvard Law emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz is defending his arguments supporting President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial after US Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday slammed them as “nonsensical.”

In a series of tweets posted Tuesday, Dershowitz, who is urging the Senate to acquit Trump of impeachment charges brought by the House of Representatives, claimed she didn’t understand his legal arguments and “willfully” misrepresented what he said.

Warren herself is a former Harvard Law professor.

Dershowitz was the final speaker in a series of presentations given by Trump’s legal team during the second day of defense arguments on Monday. He argued that the impeachment of a president requires “criminal-like conduct," and abuse of power doesn’t rise to that level. It’s a view that has been widely disputed by legal scholars.


Hundreds, in fact, have said a president’s conduct does not necessarily have to be illegal for it to be impeachable, and Dershowitz himself once held that view, during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

“Purely non-criminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are outside the range of impeachable offenses,’’ Dershowitz argued Monday.

He also argued that House Democrats were engaging in “psychoanalysis” when they argued Trump was pressuring Ukraine for investigations into Democrats for his own political benefit.

Following Dershowitz’s presentation, Warren blasted her former Harvard Law School colleague, telling reporters that his argument was “nonsensical."

“His characterization of the law simply is unsupported. He is a criminal law professor who stood in the well of the Senate and talked about how law never inquires into intent and that we should not be using the president’s intent as part of understanding impeachment,” she said, according to The Hill. “Criminal law is all about intent. Mens rea is the heart of criminal law. That’s the very basis of it. So it makes his whole presentation just nonsensical. I truly could not follow it.”


Tuesday, Dershowitz fired back, claiming he never said anything about intent and that Warren “doesn’t understand the law."

Warren’s Senate office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Massachusetts senator and presidential primary candidate is among 100 Senators who are serving as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial. The trial has kept Warren, in addition to three other Democratic senators vying for the presidential nomination, off the campaign trail as the trial continues into its second full week.

Trump’s lawyers finished their opening arguments Tuesday. Senators will next have the opportunity to question the presenters on each side of the case.

Christina Prignano can be reached at Follow her @cprignano.