The guilty plea entered Tuesday by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen made the day a bad one for President Donald Trump, but media predictions that Trump has met his legal Waterloo are premature, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday.
Dershowitz appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to assess the fallout from Cohen’s plea.
Cohen pleaded guilty to five tax evasion charges and one count of making a false statement to a lending institution. He also pleaded guilty to causing an unlawful corporate contribution and making an excessive campaign contribution in 2016, the Washington Examiner reported.
In court, Cohen said he had been directed by an unnamed federal candidate.
.@AlanDersh: "Every candidate violates the election laws when they run for president…here they're trying to elevate this into an impeachable offense or a felony against the president." #Tucker pic.twitter.com/PT87wHBn9f
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 22, 2018
Dershowitz said that far from being the end of the story, Cohen’s plea was “the beginning of a story that will unravel over time,” adding that it was “not nearly as deadly, lethal as some have portrayed it as being.”
“Violation of election laws are regarded as kind of jaywalking in the realm of things about elections,” Dershowitz said, according to BizPac Review.
“If somebody else pays the money in order to influence the outcome of the election, it is technically perhaps a violation of the election laws,” he said. “Every administration violates the election laws. Every candidate violates the election laws when they run for president. Usually, they pay a fine or something like that happens.”
Dershowitz noted that Trump’s opponents are making the charges appear to be more significant than they are.
GOP strategists and Trump allies expect impeachment to be central in next 11 weeks before midterms after Cohen plea https://t.co/WRJFFUoF2H
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 22, 2018
“Here, they’re trying to elevate this into an impeachable offense or a felony against the president,” Dershowitz said. “Look, they may name the president as an unindicted co-conspirator … Naming someone as an unindicted co-conspirator is very unfair because he has no opportunity to defend himself or herself.”
Dershowitz noted, however, that the development is a challenge for Trump
“That escalates the risks against President Trump,” Dershowitz said, according to the Boston Herald. “It’s the first thing that directly touches the president.”
However, he said, Cohen has already pleaded guilty to deception.
“I don’t think Cohen is going to be a particularly credible witness,” Dershowitz said.
“Remember as Judge Ellis said it, when they squeeze people like Manafort or Cohen, they squeeze them not only to sing but sometimes to compose and it’s very easy to embellish a story,” Dershowitz told Carlson, The Daily Caller reported.
“All he has to do then is say, ‘And the president directed me to do it.’ That’s the kind of embellishment that people put on a story when they want to avoid dying in prison. When the prosecutor says to them, ‘You have two choices. You’ll die in prison, or you can give me a story that I can use to go and get the president.'”
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, said the charges against Cohen showed no connection to Trump.
“There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen,” Giuliani said. “It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”
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