Donald Trump’s trial lawyer Alan Dershowitz’s outlandish argument in defending Donald Trump’s unjust and treasonous actions — “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” — is counterfactual.
Psychologist Albert Bandura has pointed out in the past that people who do evil have justified the morality of their actions to themselves. By convincing themselves that their behavior is moral, they are able to separate and disengage themselves from immoral behavior and its consequences. What Dershowitz is trying to do, in his desperation, is to convince the Senate — and the American people — that Donald Trump’s behaviors are not wrong because Trump himself believes they are not wrong.
Dershowitz’s argument is inherently flawed: his statement is suggesting that because the president believes that his actions may be justified, that the Senate should also determine that Trump’s actions are not wrong. But in reality, it is not the U.S. President who will determine the nature of his actions — it is the people of the United States to make this judgement, using the Senate whom they have elected to speak for them, to make this determination. It is America who collectively decides the shape of our moral compass. Not the president.
Each presidential candidate believes equally that her or his efforts to win the election is in the public interest. This belief does not justify the use of quid pro quo upon a foreign entity to gain the upper hand on a domestic U.S. election as a means to secure a win. This is clearly wrong, and the GOP-controlled Senate did everything in its power to convince us otherwise.
Foolishly, Donald Trump has confused his opponent for his enemy. But there is a world of difference. He has made a grave, inexcusable mistake. The American people deserved to hear all viable witnesses, especially testimony from John Bolton. We deserved to hear all of the facts that will help us determine, without a doubt, if Donald Trump should be removed from office. Our country’s security and moral ground is at stake.
Op-Ed by Shira Tarantino originally printed in the Stamford Advocate, Friday, February 7, 2020