Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz argued Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is creating crimes rather than uncovering past ones, and that the “devastating” report he will write will be based on people “who have lied.”
Dershowitz appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” following the plea deal entered into by President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen earlier in the day, regarding past statements he made to Congress.
In a federal court filing in New York, Mueller charged that Cohen made false statements via a 2-page letter to Congress in August 2017 regarding a Moscow building project the Trump Organization was considering in 2016. The attorney had related in his letter that discussions had ended by January 2016 before primary election season, but according to Mueller’s team, they had continued until June of that year.
The president told White House reporters before leaving for the G-20 Summit in Argentina on Thursday that Cohen was lying to get a lesser prison sentence, and even if he wasn’t, there was nothing illegal about the Trump Organization considering the project while he was a private citizen. Trump further pointed out that ultimately he decided against the project, and multiple media outlets had reported on it at the time, so the news was not new.
USA Today reported that Cohen faced a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for lying to Congress, but thanks to the plea agreement he entered into with Mueller’s team, his sentence would be six months and a fine of up to $9,500.
Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Dershowitz if what Mueller gave Cohen amounted to a bribe.
“Prosecutors offer bribes,” Dershowitz responded. “Bribes in terms of life, liberty, contact with family … If you (Hannity) offer a bribe, you go to jail, but if a prosecutor offers a bribe, it’s regarded as good conduct. It shouldn’t be legal, tragically it is.”
The legal scholar went on to contend that Mueller’s probe was creating crimes rather than uncovering wrongdoing that may have occurred in relation to the Trump campaign colluding with Russia.
“But what we’re seeing now is case after case being built against people simply for lying. These are not crimes that occurred before the special prosecutor came to office,” Dershowitz said. “He’s supposed to have uncovered crimes that have occurred in the past. Instead, he is facilitating and incentivizing the crimes, by creating these perjury traps.”
He continued, “Virtually all of his indictments and pleas come from people who he got to lie in front of investigators by setting perjury traps for them, and the other ones have to do with financial dealings unrelated to the president. Where’s the beef? Where’s the crime?”
Dershowitz also chastised the special counsel for becoming a “roving commissioner to find political sins.”
“The problem is Mueller is straying away from his mandate to find crime, and he is now looking for political sin,” he said. “Building buildings in Moscow, using stolen material from (Julian) Assange — these are not crimes. He has no authority to be a roving commissioner to find political sins.
“So far, I don’t see any evidence of crimes, except for ones that he helped to facilitate by getting people to lie in front of his own investigators.”
Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett agreed, describing all charges as process crimes “that have nothing to do with Trump or Trump/Russia collusion.”
Dershowitz cautioned that though Mueller may find no criminal conduct by the president, his report will nonetheless be “devastating.”
“Here’s the problem for the president,” Dershowitz stated. “Mueller will write a report. The report will be based on the testimony of people who have lied and who have not been cross-examined. When the report comes out it will be extremely critical. I’ve used the term devastating.”
He argued that the only way to balance the report, which will be offered as a means to shape public opinion against Trump, presumably to justify his impeachment, is for the president’s legal team to review it and have a chance to rebut it.
“It’s devastating only if it’s unrebutted,” Dershowitz said, “which is why it is absolutely essential for the president’s team to demand that the Justice Department not allow the release of the Mueller report until they’ve had a chance to review it and rebut it.
“And then both the reports, the Mueller report and the president’s lawyers’ report, come out at the same time so the American public can judge.”
Trump quoted Dershowitz from his appearance on “Hannity,” writing, “Alan Dershowitz: ‘These are not crimes. He (Mueller) has no authority to be a roving Commissioner. I don’t see any evidence of crimes.'”
“This is an illegal Hoax that should be ended immediately. Mueller refuses to look at the real crimes on the other side. Where is the IG REPORT?” Trump added.
Alan Dershowitz: “These are not crimes. He (Mueller) has no authority to be a roving Commissioner. I don’t see any evidence of crimes.” This is an illegal Hoax that should be ended immediately. Mueller refuses to look at the real crimes on the other side. Where is the IG REPORT?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2018
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