Jan 19, 2020

GOP Sen. Shelby on Trump soliciting foreign interference: "Things happen"

Pressed on whether it was appropriate for President Trump to solicit foreign interference from Ukraine and China, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said on ABC's "This Week" that the president is a "human" and that "things happen."

The exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: I asked if it was okay to solicit. We've seen the president in public ask the Ukrainians to get involved, ask the Chinese to get involved.
SHELBY: Well, those were just statements, political. They make them all the time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So it's okay?
SHELBY: I didn't say it was okay, I said people make them. People do things. Things happen.

Why it matters: There has been a range of responses from Republicans on the question of whether Trump's conduct toward Ukraine was appropriate, with some arguing that it was improper but not impeachable — and others disputing the claim that he was soliciting foreign interference.

  • Shelby's response reflects the discomfort some Republicans have with admitting they had issues with Trump's behavior, when the president himself has insisted he did nothing wrong.
  • Shelby, who has been sworn in as an "impartial juror" in the Senate impeachment trial, said he doesn't believe Trump's conduct "rises to the standard of an impeachable offense," but added: "I still think we should wait and see what comes out in the trial itself."

Go deeper:

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Dershowitz claims abuse of power is not an impeachable offense even if proven

Alan Dershowitz, a member of President Trump's legal defense team for the impeachment trial, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he will be arguing in the Senate that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress do not amount to impeachable offenses, even if proven.

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Schiff dismisses "absurdist position" that abuse of power is not impeachable

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on ABC's "This Week" that Alan Dershowitz's argument that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense — even if proven — is an "absurdist position" that President Trump is only making because the facts are so "dead set" against him.

Go deeperArrowJan 19, 2020

Dershowitz says he's more correct on impeachment now than in 1998

Alan Dershowitz speaks at an event in New York City last April. Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Alan Dershowitz, a member of President Trump's impeachment trial legal defense team, told CNN Monday he has a "more sophisticated basis" for his argument on what constitutes an impeachable offense than during the Clinton impeachment.

Why it matters: In 1998, he told CNN crime wasn't a factor in impeachment "if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty."

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020