Alaska is not Crimea, but Alan Dershowitz is willing to argue for its annexation by Russia, while his consort Trump would resist impeachment for allowing a Russian invasion, but cannot be removed from office because he hasn’t committed a crime. Darn those memes.
Why does the announcement of a Trump-Putin summit cause such fear and trembling, such weeping and gnashing of teeth? (“Hold on to your Alaska,” glares MNBC’s Rachel Maddow, intimating that Trump might give it back in Helsinki.)
Trump will not give back Alaska (which as you know, was purchased from Russia by the U.S. in 1867). But the Putin-Trump summit could produce a deal that produces some relief from the sanctions imposed in 2014—in return for some Russian shift on Syria or Ukraine that could be depicted as a serious concession by Trump’s State Department. Europe could then embrace the deal and follow suite in lifting sanctions (to the delight of European farmers and manufacturers), and even agree to Russia’s readmission into the G7/G8. Or Europe could disagree, and the Atlantic Alliance (continue to) fray.
Apparently nothing Trump does is “atrocious”, even if as Rick Wilson claims, “everything Trump touches, dies”. Trump could become the “OJ Simpson of Presidents”.
Dershowitz goes so far as to argue that even if a president were to allow Russia to invade and reclaim Alaska, this would still not rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
“A president cannot be convicted of a crime for merely exercising his constitutional authority to fire, pardon or end an investigation,” he writes, and even “collusion with a foreign power during an election” is “not currently a crime under the federal criminal code.” In addition, the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on federal statutes’ definition of corruption and “not all political actions that smell or look like corruption can be prosecuted criminally without Congress specifically making such conduct criminal” with precise legislation.
Virtually all other academics and scholars disagree that “high crimes and misdemeanors” should be interpreted so narrowly.
“No crime is necessary. If the president is acting in an ‘atrocious’ way that harms most of the states, he is committing a ‘misdemeanor,’ even if no violation of the law is involved,” writes Cass Sunstein in Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide.
Dershowitz doesn’t only argue for extremely narrow definitions based on the text of the Constitution. He goes so far as to contend that if the House and Senate convicted a president of an offense that was not a crime, the Supreme Court would be constitutionally authorized to overturn the impeachment. Such an overruling would almost certainly crack the already wobbly columns of our republic.