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Dershowitz: There's No Obstruction, President 'Has Constitutional Authority to Do What Trump Is Alleged to Have Done'

Michael W. Chapman
By Michael W. Chapman | January 29, 2018 | 4:51 PM EST

Attorney and constitutional
scholar Alan Dershowitz.
(YouTube) 

Commenting on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia, famed attorney and constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz said "collusion is not a crime" and that Mueller is now "trying to create crimes out of the way the president allegedly defended himself against the charges of collusion."

But there is no evidence of "obstruction," said Dershowitz, who added that a U.S. president has the "constitutional authority to do what President Trump is alleged to have done."

"[T]here’s no credible case because under the Constitution a president cannot be charged for merely exercising his constitutional authority under Article 2," said Dershowitz, the emeritus Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University and the author of 33 books.  

Alan Dershowitz is a liberal Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. Over the years, as a defense attorney, Dershowitz has represented clients such as Claus von Bulow, Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein. 

During the Jan. 27 edition of Fox & Friends Weekend, Dershowitz was asked, “Is there an obstruction case being built against this president and, if so, is it a credible one?”

"I think the answer is yes and no," said Dershowitz. "I think that the special counsel is trying to build an obstruction case. That’s why he’s interviewing people who are witnesses to the alleged obstruction. But there’s no credible case because under the Constitution a president cannot be charged for merely exercising his constitutional authority under Article 2."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (YouTube) 

“What Senator [Richard] Blumenthal (D-Conn.) referred to were cases where a president destroys evidence," said Dershowitz.  "There’s no evidence of that. That’s what President Nixon did. Nixon was charged with obstruction of justice for ordering his underlings to lie to the FBI, paying hush money, and destroying evidence. President Clinton was charged with obstruction for lying to the grand jury and at a deposition."

Dershowitz continued, "But if the president simply exercises his constitutional authority, namely firing an underling, which he’s entitled to do; telling the FBI not to investigate a particular person, which he’s entitled to do; pardoning people, which he hasn’t done yet; thinking about whether he should fire the special counsel – that’s not obstruction of justice under the Constitution."

Fox & Friends then asked, "Wasn’t this supposed to be about collusion?"

(Screenshot: YouTube) 

Dershowitz said, “It is supposed to be about collusion but they soon discovered that collusion is not a crime. So now they’re trying to create crimes out of the way the president allegedly defended himself against the charges of collusion. It’s a typical prosecutorial tactic. You can’t get him for the substantive crime so you get him for the alleged coverup or obstruction."

"That’s why Martha Stewart went to jail," he said. "But Martha Stewart wasn’t the president of the United States. The president of the United States has constitutional authority to do what President Trump is accused or alleged to have done."

"It would create a constitutional crisis and a separation of powers issue if a president were ever charged with merely exercising his constitutional authority because the prosecutor didn’t approve of his motive," said Dershowitz.  "Everybody has mixed motives and to start creating thought crimes out of a president’s motives would create a serious constitutional conflict.”

 

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

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