As the Senate impeachment trial went to a break during the 3:00 p.m. ET hour Wednesday afternoon, anchors of NBC News special coverage immediately went to work blasting the arguments from President Trump’s defense team as “dubious,” “legalizing Watergate,” and asserting “absolute power.”
“Clearly the House managers wanted to continue to make their case for witnesses and John Bolton, they made sure they got that in there several times,” Nightly News anchor Lester Holt said of Democratic prosecutors following the first round of the question and answer portion of the trial. He then dismissed the President’s legal team: “The President’s lawyers offering arguments against that, including what some may see as dubious legal arguments.”
Minutes later, during an interview with Republican Senator John Barrasso, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd wailed:
Alan Dershowitz is making the argument now that essentially if a president does something simply to benefit his own reelection, that’s enough to say that it’s in the public interest. Are you comfortable now making that the new standard? Basically that is legalizing Watergate. I mean, by that interpretation, everything Richard Nixon did, by that count, if it was to secure his reelection, which is in the public interest, are we expanding this way too – are you comfortable giving that kind of absolute power to the presidency?
On Thursday, Dershowitz went on a long Twitter thread pushing back hard on what he called a mischaracterization of his actual argument:
I did not say or imply that a candidate could do anything to reassure his reelection, only that seeking help in an election is not necessarily corrupt, citing the Lincoln and Obama examples. Critics have an obligation to respond to what I said, not to create straw men to attack.
— Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) January 30, 2020
During special coverage on CBS in the same hour, Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell applauded Democrats for “passionately” comparing Trump to Richard Nixon and warning that acquittal would mean “this president will be above the law”:
The other argument that you hear [Adam] Schiff making so passionately – right, so much of their argument has been so meticulous and prepared – the passion is, “If you let the President and you don’t impeach him, you are saying he is above the law. That’s why the Democrats saved that final question for Kamala Harris, where she brought up Nixon. The idea that, “If you allow this to happen, there will be no force behind Senate subpoena power in the future and this president will above the law and he will continue to behave as if he’s above the law.”