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Alan Dershowitz Says Special Counsel Will 'Find No Crime'

Michael W. Chapman
By Michael W. Chapman | May 22, 2017 | 12:58 PM EDT

Attorney and constitutional

scholar Alan Dersdhowitz.

(Screenshot: CNN)

Constitutional and criminal law scholar and former Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who "proudly" voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, said a special counsel should not have been appointed to investigate President Donald Trump because there is no criminal statute or crime that he or his campaign is alleged to have committed. 

Dershowitz further said that, at the end of the day, Special Counsel Robert Mueller "is going to find no crime." Dershowitz added that Trump did not obstruct justice by firing FBI Director James Comey because he has a "constitutional and statutory right to do that" as president. Just by "exercising his constitutional rights, there is no obstruction of justice here and I don't see any crime here at all," said Dershowitz, a long-time criminal defense attorney and the author of Reversal of Fortune, Chutzpah, The Case for Israel, and 30 other books and more than 1,000 articles.  

   

During a Friday interview on Fox's Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson remarked, "You asked a question nobody has asked, which is, 'What is the crime to which the Special Counsel is responding'? What is the answer?"

Dershowitz said, "Well, first, I'm here not as a supporter of Donald Trump. I voted for Hillary Clinton very proudly. I'm here as a supporter for civil liberties and construing statutes narrowly as they were written. I just don't see a crime here. I see perhaps some political wrongdoing. I see leaking information on both sides."

"But even if, for example, the [Trump] campaign coordinated -- which there is no evidence of -- but coordinated activities with Russia," he said. "And even if Russia and the campaigns said, 'gee, wouldn't it be better if Trump were elected?' That's political wrongdoing, but it's just not a crime."

"Nobody can point me to a statute that would be violated," said Dershowitz.  "And a prosecutor is only allowed to look for evidence of a federal crime. And the reason I think Trump may benefit from this is this will be a secret proceeding."

"Mueller is a very honorable guy, so he's not going to leak anything," said the Harvard Law professor. "And in the end, he's going to find no crime. Maybe he'll issue a report, which in my view would be improper, because he only hears half of the evidence. Only the prosecutor's part of the evidence. But he will say there is no crime."

Dershowitz continued, "Maybe the worst-case scenario for the Trump administration is maybe [former NSA Director Michael] Flynn gets indicted for lying, the president probably pardons him at that point. But it's two years from now. Or a year and a half from now. And in the meantime, he has a reprieve.... But now it's going to be done in secret behind closed doors. And all we get in the end is no indictment or a low level former official gets indicted it and I think in the end that helps the Trump administration and that hurts them."

President Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey. (Screenshots: ABC News.) 

Carlson then asked about Wikileaks and the claim that the Trump campaign somehow allegedly coordinated their release with Russian officials.

"I want to get back to your first point which is there is, there is no crime being alleged," said Carlson. "So, I'm hearing Democrats every night say, it's likely that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians on the timing of the WikiLeaks dump. If there is no evidence of that, but if that turns out to be true, that's not a crime?"

Dershowitz said, "Of course not. Why would that be a crime? It would be like The Washington Post publishing WikiLeaks. As long as the Trump administration, or no individual told them to hack the DNA [DNC], that would be obviously very different, or gave them information that was useful in hacking the DNC, but just knowing that they hacked the DNC taking advantage of that fact, it's not a crime."

Carlson then asked, "Why is there a special counsel?"

Dershowitz said, "Well, there shouldn't be."

"Look at the letter" from the deputy attorney general, he said. "The letter says you should look into the Russian thing and anything that grows out of it, [but] nobody points to any kind of crime."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (Screenshot: C-SPAN) 

"And there can't be obstruction of justice for the president to fire [former FBI Director James] Comey, that's his constitutional and statutory right to do that" as president, said Dershowitz. "Even if the president did say to Comey, 'let it go' when it comes to Flynn. Under the unitary theory of the executive, the president has a right to direct the Justice Department and the right to direct the FBI what to do."

The legal scholar then gave a historical example involving President Thomas Jefferson.

"Thomas Jefferson told his attorney general to prosecute Aaron Burr," said Dershowitz. "He told them how to do it. He called witnesses. And he, the president, gave them immunity. He called the Chief Justice who was his cousin, John Marshall, and threatened to have him impeached if he didn't convict Aaron Burr."

"Aaron Burr got acquitted, but not due to any failure of Thomas Jefferson," said Dershowitz. "So, historically, the president is the head of the executive branch and he cannot be convicted of obstruction of justice for simply performing his constitutional duty."

In concluding his comments, Dershowitz said, "Look, if he [Trump] tore up a subpoena or erased tapes or put out a perjured testimony, that's very different. But just by exercising his constitutional rights, there is no obstruction of justice here and I don't see any crime here at all."

The White House. (History.com) 

Alan Dershowitz, 78, is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School. Over the years, he has represented clients such as Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst, O.J. Simpson, Claus von Bulow and Jim Bakker. He won 13 of 15 murder and attempted murder cases.

Dershowitz is a strong supporter of the Democratic Party. He has been honored with several awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Soviet Jewry Freedom Award, the Menachin Begin Award, and with numerous honorary doctorates.  Dershowitz is a regular contributor to and political analyst for CNN. He is married and has three children. 

Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman