Alan Dershowitz

Trump lawyer: ‘Quid pro quo’ isn’t inherently unlawful

Trump defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz said on Wednesday that a “quid pro quo” involving a U.S. president isn’t inherently unlawful and that one of the goods or services exchanged has to be illegal in some way. Mr. Dershowitz posited a case where a Democratic president told Congress he was withholding financial assistance to Israel or Palestine unless the countries met certain requirements on settlements or terrorism. “And the president said, ‘quid pro quo — if you don’t do it, you don’t get the money. If you do it, you get the money,’ ” Mr. Dershowitz said. “There’s no one in this chamber that would regard that as in any way unlawful. The only thing that would make a quid pro quo unlawful is if the quo were, in some way, illegal.” He said politicians can have several motives for taking action: a motive in the public interest, a motive in their own political interest and a motive in their personal financial interest. “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. And mostly you’re right — your election is in the public interest,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “And if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” He said it would be a different story if a president told a foreign leader to build a hotel with his name on it “and unless you give me a million-dollar kickback, I will withhold the funds.” “That’s an easy case — that’s purely corrupt and in the purely private interest,” he said. Mr. Dershowitz was speaking at President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial on the first day senators were allowed to pose questions to the House impeachment managers and to Mr. Trump’s team.

I had the pleasure of seeing Professor Dershowitz’s fiery defense earlier today on tv, and his whole explanation of “maladministration” was awesome.  He looked directly at the Democrat House Managers and basically said, “you’re wrong.”…and here’s why…and preceded to destroy their argument.  It was like Mastercard; “priceless.”  We need to see more of his animated history lessons.    🙂

Alan Dershowitz: House managers’ case falls short of impeachment standard even if true

Alan Dershowitz, who is part of President Trump’s impeachment legal defense team, said Sunday that even if the House managers successfully laid out the facts in their case they would still fall short of the standard needed to impeach and remove Mr. Trump from office. He said abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, which are the charges Mr. Trump stands accused of, are “vague, open-ended” criteria. “Even if the factual allegations are true – which are highly disputed and which the defense team will show contrary evidence – but even if true, they did not allege impeachable offenses,” Mr. Dershowitz said on “Fox News Sunday.” “So there can’t be a constitutionally authorized impeachment.” “The conduct has to be criminal in nature – it can’t be abuse of power; it can’t be obstruction of Congress,” he said. “Those are precisely the arguments that the framers rejected.” Mr. Dershowitz also addressed an old clip from around the time of President Clinton’s impeachment where he said “you don’t need a technical crime” for an impeachment. He said that in 1998, Mr. Clinton was charged with perjury. “I did say that then, and then I’ve done all the extensive research. I’ve been immersing myself in dusty old books, and I’ve concluded that no, it has to be crime,” he said on Sunday. Mr. Trump’s team opened their defense of the president on Saturday, and they’re expected to go into more detail starting on Monday. House impeachment managers had completed about 24 hours of presenting their case on Friday, arguing that Mr. Trump abused his power by improperly withholding military aid to Ukraine and then obstructed Congress by impeding the subsequent House investigation into his conduct. Mr. Trump’s defense team has suggested they won’t take the entire 24 hours they’re allotted over three days to refute the arguments from House Democrats.

Keep in mind, Professor Alan Dershowitz from Harvard is a very liberal, Jewish, registered Democrat who “proudly voted for Hillary” in the last election.  So, not exactly a career Republican hack…and he is a well-respected constitutional attorney, and Harvard professor.  So, the tools over at CNN and MSNBC are having the toughest time taking personal pot shots at him and trying to dismiss his comments.  He was a very smart choice by the Trump team.

Alan Dershowitz: Mueller wrongly introduces dangerous concept of ‘exoneration’ in review of Trump actions

The word of the day, following the confusing and confused testimony of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller before two House committees Wednesday, is “exonerate” – or more precisely, “not exonerate.” Exoneration is not the job of our legal system. Mueller’s attempt to introduce it is an extraordinary and dangerous innovation that would endanger the presumption of innocence we all have under the law. During and following Mueller’s testimony, much of the media went into overdrive highlighting one sentence in the former special counsel’s 448-page report on Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election, as if it were breaking news. The sentence, which Mueller reiterated in his testimony, said: “Accordingly while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” But this sentence from the Mueller report, which was completed in March, was not news at all. Mueller simply repeated that formulation Wednesday and some Democrats treated it as a breakthrough invitation to begin impeachment proceedings. There is a grave and frightening danger in introducing the concept of exoneration into our legal system. It suggests that a person may still be presumed guilty even if the decision was made not to prosecute him or her, or even if a jury rendered a verdict of not guilty. Surely, this is the impression that the Mueller report and Mueller himself intended to convey by the sentence, which is the last one in his report. Surely, this is the impression that the Democrats are trying to convey to voters. But the truth is that even a full trial doesn’t exonerate or not exonerate anyone, since the rules of evidence limit the testimony and other evidence that can be heard by a jury. Exoneration is for God, historians and other non-legal institutions that have access to the totality of information. It should never become part of our legal system and it should never be used as a partisan political weapon by politicians. Mueller should never have spoken of exoneration in his report or in his testimony. Under Mueller’s concept of exoneration, a criminal investigation would become a three-part multiple-choice test with “guilty,” “not guilty” and “exonerated” as the three choices. In the context of a prosecutorial decision, the choices would be “prosecute,” “don’t prosecute,” “exonerate” and “not exonerate.” But these choices are not part of the American legal system. Our system operates on a binary approach, not a multiple-choice one. When a prosecutor decides not to prosecute, or when a jury renders a verdict of not guilty, that has to be the last word when it comes to the criminal law. By introducing the concept of “not exonerated” the special counsel exceeded his own powers and even those of the Justice Department. There is absolutely nothing in the Justice Department rule book or in the regulations governing the role of a special counsel that gives him or her the power to exonerate or not exonerate. And for good reason Prosecutors and special counsels only hear evidence on one side of the case. Their job is to determine whether there is probable cause to send the case to a judge or a jury for a full trial, with cross-examination, defense witnesses and zealous defense lawyers. Mueller should have been questioned hard about the use of the term “exonerate.” He was asked a few questions, which he studiously avoided answering. There should be a separate set of hearings, both in the House and Senate, to deal, as a matter of principle, with the idea of introducing the dangerous concept of exoneration into our legal lexicon. Scholars and others should be invited to testify about the implications of prosecutors or special counsels using that term in their reports or public statements. To illustrate the dangers of public officials using this term, think back to what disgraced former FBI Director James Comey said with regard to Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails when he held a news conference in the closing days of the 2016 presidential election campaign. Though Comey didn’t use the term “not exonerated” – instead he expressed his opinion that although Clinton would not be prosecuted, she displayed extreme carelessness – he basically told the world that she had not been exonerated. Democrats, including me, railed against Comey for going beyond the traditional statement that a decision had been made not to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But today, some of these same Democrats are exulting about Mueller’s statements that President Trump was not exonerated. This double-standard fails the “shoe on the other foot test,” which demands that the same standards be applied regardless of party affiliation. So let’s redact the words “exonerate” and “exonerated” from the Mueller report, from the vocabulary of prosecutors and from our legal system. These words set an absurd standard that wrongly casts a shadow of suspicion over people who are not charged with crimes or found not guilty after a trial.

Agreed!  And well said, professor!  For our new readers, Dr. Alan M. Dershowitz is Felix Frankfurter professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School. His latest book is “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.” Follow him on Twitter: @AlanDersh Facebook: @AlanMDershowitz.  Dr, Dershowitz is also a loyal Democrat, and was a big Hillary supporter.  So, that gives him even more credibility in this discussion.  Thanks Sir!    🙂

Alan Dershowitz: Congress is not above the law when it comes to impeachment – Don’t weaponize the Constitution

The mantra invoked by those Democrats who are seeking to impeach President Trump is that “no one is above the law.” That, of course, is true, but it is as applicable to Congress as it is to the president. Those members of Congress who are seeking to impeach the president, even though he has not committed any of the specified impeachable offenses set out in the Constitution, are themselves seeking to go above the law. All branches of government are bound by the law. Members of Congress, presidents, justices and judges must all operate within the law. All take an oath to support the Constitution, not to rewrite it for partisan advantage. It is the law that exempts presidents from being prosecuted or impeached for carrying out their constitutional authority under Article 2. The same Constitution precludes members of Congress from being prosecuted for most actions taken while on the floor of the House and Senate or on the way to performing their functions. The same Constitution, as interpreted by the courts, bestows immunity on judges for actions that would be criminal or tortious if engaged in by non-judicial individuals. None of this means that these government officials are above the law. It means that their immunized actions are within the law. The Constitution, which is the governing law, precludes Congress from impeaching a president for mere “dereliction” of duty or even alleged “corruption.” Under the text of the Constitution, a president’s actions to be impeachable must consist of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The framers of the Constitution considered broadening the criteria for impeachment to include maladministration in office. But this proposal was soundly rejected, on the ground that it would give Congress too much power to control the president. Yet Democrats who are now seeking to impeach the president, despite the absence of impeachable offenses, are trying to do precisely what the framers of the Constitution forbade them from doing: exercising control over a president that is not authorized in the Constitution itself. Consider, for example, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has said the following: “Impeachment is about whatever the Congress says it is. There is no law that dictates impeachment.” It is she, and other like-minded members of Congress, who are claiming the right to be above the law. That is a dangerous claim whether made by a president or by a member of Congress. The framers of the Constitution did not want a weak president subject to the political control of Congress. Members of the Constitutional Convention explicitly expressed that view in rejecting criteria for impeachment short of criminal conduct. In the absence of the specified criminal conduct, the remedy for a non-impeachable president lies with the voters, not Congress. There are other constitutionally authorized remedies as well. These include reasonable congressional hearings conducted under the oversight powers of Congress. These hearings, too, must not be conducted for partisan purposes, but rather for legitimate legislative purposes, such as enacting new laws that evidence of the hearings show are necessary. The current hearings do not meet these standards. They are obviously calculated to obtain partisan advantage in the run-up to the 2020 election. Another option would be for Congress to appoint a nonpartisan expert commission, such as the one appointed following the 9/11 attacks. This commission could look deeply and objectively at all the issues growing out of the 2016 election, particularly Russian efforts to interfere in the American political process. The commission’s goal would not be criminal prosecutions, but rather preventive measures to assure no repetition in the 2020 and subsequent elections. Unfortunately, we live in a time of extreme partisanship, and no one seems interested in nonpartisan truth or in measures that help all Americans rather than only one party. The time has come to stop weaponizing the Constitution and our legal system for partisan advantage. Impeachment would be a lawless response to undertake, as is the use of partisan committees to obtain an electoral advantage. No one is above the law, but no one is beneath the legal protection of the law as well. Both parties should operate within the law for the benefit of the American people.

Agreed!!  And well said, Sir.  Dr. Alan M. Dershowitz, the author of that outstanding legal op/ed, is Felix Frankfurter professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School. What you may find surprising is that Dr. Dershowitz is a proud liberal who makes a point to let folks know he proudly voted for Hillary.  He is one of the few intellectually honest liberals out there, who was recently DISinvited from appearing on CNN.  So, we’re happy to post his article here.  His latest book is “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.” Follow him on Twitter: @AlanDersh Facebook: @AlanMDershowitz.  Please consider this your Read of the Day.  If you read only one thing today here at The Daily Buzz, then READ THIS!!…and then forward it to all of your friends and family members, especially those who are Democrats or who watch MSNBC or CNN…and watch their heads explode.    🙂

Alan Dershowitz: Mueller just filed Russia report. Here’s what Barr should do with it

All we know at this point is that Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election to Attorney General William Barr on Friday. What we don’t know is how the attorney general will handle the report. Barr has several options. The fairest would be to immediately turn the report over to President Trump’s legal team and give them a week to write a response. Barr could then issue both reports simultaneously so that the American public could judge the comparative merits of both sides of this adversarial process. But there may well be pressures on the attorney general to send the report to Congress – thus making it public – as soon as he can vet it for possible national security omissions. If that’s what the attorney general does, then it is imperative that the American public withhold conclusions about the report until the Trump legal team has had the opportunity to respond in the court of public opinion. This is crucial because prosecutorial reports – and Special Counsel Mueller is a prosecutor – are, by their very nature, one-sided. Prosecutors only listen to inculpatory evidence rather than including exculpatory evidence. They interview witnesses against the subject, but not witnesses in favor of the subject. That is why the Trump legal defense team needs to provide its assessment of the Mueller investigation. Americans are impatient. The Mueller investigation has gone on since May 2017. So, there will be an impulse to arrive at judgments, at least preliminary ones, without waiting for the rebuttal. The Mueller report itself might give us some clues as to the manner in which the investigation was conducted. How much reliance was placed on bought or rented witness? That is, defendants who were given the opportunity to cooperate with prosecutors in order to reduce their sentences. Great caution ought to be exercised in accepting evidence from any such source, especially since they have not been cross-examined or subject to other challenges. We may also learn about whether there are any ongoing investigations by ordinary federal prosecutors in New York, Washington or Virginia. In addition, we may see a roadmap for further investigations by Congress. It is unlikely that the president will be charged with obstruction of justice for firing FBI Director James Comey, especially since the person overseeing the Mueller investigation, Rod Rosenstein, was centrally involved in that decision, offering the memorandum that justified it. Nor is it likely that the president or his campaign will be charged with any sort of collusion since there is no such crime in the criminal code. It is possible that we may see some allegations of campaign law violations, but those are likely to be rather technical and not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. So hold your breath and stay tuned, America. And please, don’t rush to judgment until you have not only read this report but any response the Trump legal team may offer. You will hear more from me once I’ve had an opportunity to read the report and any response.

And we look forward to hearing it, professor! Dr. Alan M. Dershowitz is Felix Frankfurter professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School. His latest book is “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.” Yet, he is a registered Democrat who proudly voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.  So, hardly on the Trump Train.  He’s just a fair-minded, and very respected lawyer.  Follow him on Twitter: @AlanDersh Facebook: @AlanMDershowitz.

Alan Dershowitz: Michael Cohen falsely conflates ‘wrong’ and ‘illegal’ while bashing Trump

Legal icon Alan Dershowitz says the latest version attorney Michael Cohen — the one who says his lying days are behind him — is obfuscating when it comes to President Trump. Mr. Cohen gave an interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Friday regarding the now-infamous hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, but Mr. Dershowitz was not impressed. The Harvard Law School professor emeritus told Fox and Friends that a word like “wrong” in this case is erroneously being used as a synonym for “illegal.” “Reasonable people can disagree about whether it’s wrong to pay hush money to somebody to stop them from disclosing alleged improprieties sexually. Reasonable people can say that’s wrong or that’s right,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “It’s not illegal.” Mr. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison this week for various crimes, including campaign-finance violations. “It’s sad that I should take responsibility for [Trump’s] dirty deeds,” Mr. Cohen said. “I will not be the villain, as I told you once before. I will not be the villain of his story. … I knew what I was doing was wrong. I stood up before the world yesterday and I accepted responsibility for my actions.” Mr. Dershowitz countered that Mr. Cohen is conflating moral questions regarding allegations of marital infidelity with an incorrect reading of campaign-finance laws. “If a presidential candidate took cash and went to one of these women and said, ‘I’m paying you not to disclose what happened and I’m doing it in order to help myself be elected president,’ that would not be a crime,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “A president is entitled to make campaign contributions to his own campaign. The only issue is if he did it at all, did he do it properly. To the extent that he authorized Cohen, that makes them payments by the president, which makes them legal.” “Whether you think it’s wrong or right, I don’t understand the case for how it’s illegal. If you look at the very, very complicated campaign laws, the one thing that comes out simply is that a candidate may himself or herself contribute as much as they want to a campaign,” he added.

Dershowitz: ‘Evidence Isn’t There’ Showing Trump Committed Impeachable Offenses

Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said evidence wasn’t there showing that President Donald Trump “committed crimes and impeachable offenses.” Dershowitz said, “I fully understand why so many people want, hope that President Trump has committed crimes and impeachable offenses, but the evidence isn’t there. The president or a candidate is entitled to contribute anything he wants to his own campaign. The only issue here is whether or not there was a failure to report the contribution. That was to the treasurer of the campaign and not to the president and conspiracy is a very big stretch.” He added, “It’s a stretch. It’s a stretch. Look the reporting — if it occurred, would have occurred after the election considering the chronology of everything, and so to stretch and make a reporting violation which so many campaigns have. President Obama’s campaign had to pay $300,000 for reporting violations. To make a conspiracy out of that when the law itself says the treasurer is responsible, not the candidate, is an example of precisely what we’re seeing, trying to stretch the law to fit somebody, who many Americans hope and want to see commit a crime or commit an impeachable offense.”

Professor Dershowitz is exactly right!  And, to be clear..  This is man is a very liberal, Jewish, Harvard professor who voted for Hillary…and proudly so.  He’s hardly on the “Trump Train.”  He’s just a fair and honest liberal (if only there were more of them!)..and we’re glad he’s out on the different news networks setting the record straight from a legal perspective.

Dershowitz: Trump ‘more correct than his critics are’ with claims about Daniels, McDougal payments

Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Wednesday that President Trump did nothing wrong if he gave Michael Cohen money out of his pocket to pay women to keep them quiet about claims they had sexual relationships with him more than a decade ago. “If the president had paid $280,000 to these two women, even if he had done so in order to help his campaign, that would be no problem,” Dershowitz told Fox News’ “Special Report.” “The candidate is entitled to contribute a million dollars to his own campaign, as long as he reports it.” Cohen pleaded guilty tuesday to two counts of violating federal campaign-finance law and claimed that he arranged the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal “at the direction” of then-candidate Trump. In an interview set to air on “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning, Trump told Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt he did not know that Cohen had made the payments to Daniels and McDougal until “later on” and claimed the funds “didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me.” On Wednesday, Dershowitz told Fox News’ Bret Baier that he believed Trump to be “more correct than his critics are” and claimed that federal prosecutors were “in a little bit of a Catch-22.” “If [the prosecution] believes Cohen, that the president directed him to do it, then it’s not a crime at all,” Dershowitz said. “If he doesn’t believe Cohen, then Cohen has committed a crime, but not the president.” Dershowitz also took issue with the idea that Trump was an unindicted co-conspirator with Cohen, saying, “You don’t become an unindicted co-conspirator if your action is lawful, even though the action of the other person is unlawful.” Dershowitz also expressed skepticism that Cohen’s plea opened the door to an impeachment case against Trump. “It might be a misdemeanor for the campaign to fail to report that payment, but it would be on the campaign, not on the candidate,” he said. “So, that’s not even a close question and to talk about it as a high crime and misdemeanor is absurd. That’s not the kind of thing the Framers had in mind.”

Agreed!!  And well said, professor.  To be clear, Professor Alan Dershowitz is a VERY liberal, Jewish, Harvard Constitutional Law Professor who is well-respected in the legal community.  He is also very open and proud of the fact that he voted for Hillary.  So, he is by no means a big Trump fan or on the “Trump Train” by any means.  That said, he is also the author of a new book entitled, “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.”  Of course that has the heads at MSNBC and CNN exploding, and he’s probably persona nongrata at Martha’s Vineyard.  But, ya gotta respect the man’s integrity.  He is exactly right, of course.  So far, there is NOTHING to remotely suggest any wrongdoing by President Trump…again, thus far.  Of course we could learn something tomorrow.  But, from what has come out so far…nothing.  Thanks to Mr. Dershowitz for setting the record straight!

Alan Dershowitz: Donald Trump Jr.’s conduct likely covered by First Amendment

Prominent Harvard law professor and liberal author Alan Dershowitz says Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial meeting last year with a Russian lawyer is likely protected under the First Amendment. “There’s a big difference between the act of stealing, or the act of hacking, and the act of using it,” Mr. Dershowitz told Fox Business host Neil Cavuto in an appearance Wednesday. “And there’s really no difference under the First Amendment between a campaigner using information he obtained from somebody who obtained it illegally and a newspaper doing it,” he continued. “So I think this is conduct that would be covered by the First Amendment. It is also not prohibited by law. And there’s been so much overwrought claim. There are people are talking about treason. I can’t believe The New York Times had an op-ed yesterday in which treason was mentioned.” Mr. Trump Jr. on Tuesday released an email chain between himself and a British publicist that arranged a June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who, according to the publicist, offered “very high level and sensitive information” about Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s “support” for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The younger Mr. Trump said Tuesday that the meeting turned out to be a waste of time and nothing came of it, but the revelation ramped up allegations from Democratic lawmakers that associates of President Trump may have colluded with the Russian government to influence the U.S. election. Some lawmakers, including Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine, have said it could potentially lead to a treason investigation. Mr. Dershowitz, however, said he doesn’t “see any crime at this point” in Mr. Trump Jr.’s behavior. “Even if the worst case scenario as far as we know now, is the Russians get in touch with Trump Jr. and say, ‘we have some dirt on Hillary Clinton, come we’ll give it to you’ and he goes and gets the information. That’s what the New York Times did with the Pentagon Papers, that’s what the Washington Post did and many other newspaper did with information with Snowden and Manning,” he told Newsmax Tuesday. “You are allowed legally to use material that was obtained illegally as long as you had nothing to do with the illegal nature of obtaining the information, so at the moment I see no legal jeopardy for Trump Jr.”

And remember, this professor Dershowitz is a VERY liberal attorney who “proudly” voted for Hillary.    Nuff said..

Dershowitz: Mueller Made a ‘Mistake’ Hiring Lawyers Who Supported Clinton

Attorney and Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said on “America’s Newsroom” that Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a mistake with some of the hirings for his legal team in the Russia investigation. President Trump said in an interview on “Fox & Friends” that the hirings are “bothersome.” Reports in recent days have pointed out that lawyers working on the probe have donated to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s campaigns. Dershowitz suggested the hirings cast some suspicion on the neutrality of the investigation, noting the close friendship between Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey. “When you’re having a criminal prosecution that’s political, you have to be Caesar’s wife. You can’t give the other side any opportunity to accuse you of political partisanship, which is why I think it was a mistake for Mueller to hire, essentially, people who have been large contributors to the [Clinton] campaign,” said Dershowitz. He also said Trump’s “bluff” toward Comey – in which he tweeted about the possible existence of tapes of their conversations – was “perfectly legal.” Dershowitz said he once used a similar tactic in a case he was working on, suggesting to a police officer on the witness stand that he possessed a transcript of a key recording. “It [was entrapment] in the interest of justice,” he recalled. Dershowitz said, however, that he’s not sure Trump’s tweet was a good idea because it led Comey to leak his memos and it prompted Mueller to be appointed as special counsel.

Keep in mind, Dershowitz is a liberal Democrat who voted for Hillary.  To see the video of his full opinion, click on the text above.