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Former Harvard Prof. Dershowitz Tapped For Trump Impeachment Legal Team

President Donald Trump speaks to attorney Alan Dershowitz, right, as he arrives for Christmas Eve dinner at Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
President Donald Trump speaks to attorney Alan Dershowitz, right, as he arrives for Christmas Eve dinner at Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

President Donald Trump's legal team for his upcoming Senate impeachment trial will include former Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton.

The team will also include Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general and a Trump ally, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to speak on the record.

The lead roles for Trump's defense will be played by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow.

In adding Dershowitz and Starr, the president is turning to a pair of brand-name attorneys who have experience in some of the more consequential legal dramas of recent American history. The additions give the president additional experience both in constitutional law and in the politics of impeachment. Starr's investigation into Clinton's relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky helped set in motion Clinton's impeachment, the last such case before Congress.

Dershowitz confirmed his role in a series of tweets on Friday, saying, he would "present oral arguments at the Senate trial to address the constitutional arguments against impeachment and removal."

"While Professor Dershowitz is non partisan when it comes to the constitution - he opposed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and voted for Hillary Clinton - he believes the issues at stake go to the heart of our enduring Constitution," he said in another tweet.

Dershowitz told Here & Now last week that he was being considered for the team, but said at the time he couldn't comment on whether he had agreed to join. He said he does not believe Trump committed an impeachable offense and that "both of the articles of impeachment violate the Constitution."

Dershowitz has been accused of sexual assault by a woman who says she was made to have sex with Dershowitz while they were with Jeffrey Epstein. Dershowitz is countersuing the woman. The former law professor also represented Epstein over a decade ago and helped negotiate the so-called sweetheart plea deal that allowed Epstein a work release provision throughout his 13 months in a Palm Beach County, Fla. jail.

Other members of Trump's legal defense include Jane Raskin, who was part of the president's legal team during special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, and Robert Ray, who was part of the the Whitewater investigation of the Clintons.

Trump was impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. Those stem from his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rivals as he was withholding security aid.

The U.S. Senate opened the trial Thursday and senators were sworn in as jurors. The trial resumes Tuesday.

The president insists he did nothing wrong, and he dismissed the trial anew on Thursday at the White House: "It's totally partisan. It's a hoax."

However, new revelations are mounting about Trump's actions toward Ukraine.

The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that the White House violated federal law in withholding the security assistance to Ukraine, which shares a border with hostile Russia.

Eventual acquittal is expected in the Republican-controlled Senate. However, new revelations are mounting about Trump's actions toward Ukraine.

The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that the White House violated federal law in withholding the security assistance to Ukraine, which shares a border with hostile Russia.

At the same time, an indicted associate of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, has turned over to prosecutors new documents linking the president to the shadow foreign policy being run by Giuliani.

Those developments applied fresh pressure to senators to call more witnesses for the trial, a main source of contention that is still to be resolved. The White House has instructed officials not to comply with subpoenas from Congress requesting witnesses or other information.

Besides his 1990s role as an independent counsel, Starr is also a former U.S. solicitor general and federal circuit court judge. He was removed as president of Baylor University and then resigned as chancellor of the school in the wake of a review critical of the university's handling of sexual assault allegations against football players. Starr said his resignation was the result of the university's board of regents seeking to place the school under new leadership following the scandal, not because he was accused of hiding or failing to act on information.

With additional reporting from the WBUR newsroom. This is a developing story.

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