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Alan Dershowitz won’t defend Trump in Senate

Alan Dershowitz spoke during President Trump's first impeachment trial in 2020.
Alan Dershowitz spoke during President Trump's first impeachment trial in 2020.Associated Press

Alan Dershowitz, the retired Harvard Law School professor who defended President Trump last year in his first Senate impeachment trial, said Thursday he does not expect to serve on the president’s legal team if an unprecedented second trial is held.

“This is political theater, and I’m neither a politician or an actor,” Dershowitz said in a phone interview. “So I don’t see a role for a real lawyer to play in this show trial.”

Dershowitz, who helped Trump win an acquittal in the Senate last February, said Trump has not asked for his assistance this time, “and I don’t like to speculate about hypotheticals.” He added that he strongly believes that the Senate has no power to try a president after his or her term ends.

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“Once the president leaves office, he becomes a private citizen,” he said, adding later, “I don’t believe the Senate has jurisdiction to proceed at 12:01 p.m. Jan. 20. I think it loses all jurisdiction, because it can no longer remove the president, and that’s the only legitimate function of impeachment. … Even if the process began before he was the former president, the trial cannot continue.”

Dershowitz said some “scholar/advocates” disagree with him. “But they’re wrong.”

The Harvard Law professor emeritus was also critical of the House of Representatives’ quick drive for impeachment, which culminated in a bipartisan vote of 232 to 197 on Wednesday.

“Yesterday’s impeachment, there were no legal arguments. The president wasn’t allowed to present a defense. His lawyers weren’t there,” Dershowitz said.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.