Julian Zelizer’s dishonesty is disgustingly displayed in this article when he writes “Dershowitz was repeating a line of argument that we’ve heard before from Trump’s staunchest defenders. Presidential power is so total and so complete, the argument goes, that there is almost nothing that Trump could do to warrant impeachment.” That isn’t the argument that Professor Dershowitz is making. In fact, it isn’t even close.

In the Trump legal team’s initial filing, which I wrote about here, Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow noted that “the Supreme Court has recognized, the President’s constitutional authority to protect the confidentiality of Executive Branch information is at its apex in the field of foreign relations and national security.

The Trump legal team’s initial filing is 7 pages long. It doesn’t take much time to read through that filing, especially compared with reading through the 111 pages of word salad in the House Democrats’ initial filing. It’s difficult to picture Zelizer not reading through both filings. Perhaps he didn’t but, if he didn’t, then that’s sloppy journalism.

The argument that Professor Dershowitz is making is that impeachable offenses must be “Treason, Bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” In this interview, Professor Dershowitz gives insight into what his responsibility will be:

This is sloppy, too:

To be sure, Dershowitz’s outlook is rooted in a growing body of work that took hold in conservative circles since the 1980s about expansive executive power. A number of prominent right-wing legal practitioners and scholars, including Attorney General William Barr, subscribed to the notion that the powers of the president are bold, almost total. They rejected the direction of Watergate-era congressional reforms, such as the War Powers Act, that sought to constrain the president.

According to the Constitution, Congress has the affirmative responsibility of declaring war. The Constitution also gives the Senate the responsibility of ratifying treaties. Ratification requires “two thirds of the Senators present concur” with treaties negotiated by the President. The other responsibility that Congress has with regards to foreign policy is the power of the purse.

Congress doesn’t have the authority to prosecute wars or execute foreign policy. That’s the Executive Branch’s responsibility. Period. Full stop. Imagine how utterly dysfunctional foreign policy would be if we had 536 commanders-in-chief.

Conservatives have also supported President Trump by employing the “unitary executive” theory, arguing that the President has broad powers over the executive branch. This was the argument Barr used before becoming attorney general to defend Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

The current administration has taken these arguments even further to justify the brazen actions of Trump with regards to Ukraine and the obstruction of Congress. Defenders such as Dershowitz have gone so far in their arguments that they have tried to essentially nullify any constitutional provisions that we have to make certain that presidents are held accountable.

Instead of a system of checks and balances, the logic of their claims imply the founders wanted a chief executive without restraint. This country was founded on the revolt against a monarchy — now Trump’s defenders are trying to argue for more of the same.

That final paragraph is intellectually sloppy. The men who debated, then wrote the Constitution, wanted a congress that essentially passed the budget and set naturalization laws. These men understood the importance of a single commander-in-chief for prosecuting wars and a chief executive officer who negotiated treaties. That doesn’t mean that Congress is voiceless in these decisions.

That being said, Congress shouldn’t use the power of the purse to stop a war without a very good reason that’s supported by virtually the entire nation. Once war is declared, it should be controlled by the Executive Branch barring historic corruption.

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