Archive for the ‘Alan Dershowitz’ Category

Alan Dershowitz To CNN: Im Winning The Battle On Marthas …

Modern-day McCarthyism apparently doesnt stand a chance against Alan Dershowitz, who boasted today on CNN that he is winning the battle on Marthas Vineyard.

Dershowitz declared victory on this mornings Smerconish, just 10 days after the socially embattled coastal summerer wrote a column for The Hill in which he bemoaned being shunned by old friends and other warm-weather trippers on the famously liberal (and famously elite) Marthas Vineyard.

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The Harvard law prof emeritus wrote to much internet snarking that the cause of all the cold shoulders was his very public arguments against the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

For them, he wrote about his Vineyard neighbors on June 27, it is enough that what I have said about the Constitution might help Trump. So they are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life on Marthas Vineyard.

The part that drew the loudest howls: I never thought I would see McCarthyism come to Marthas Vineyard, but I have.

Rather than back away from the hyperbolic comparison of his lackluster social life to ruined careers, blacklists and prison, Dershowitz doubled down today when CNNs Michael Smerconish joked during their conversation I think that answer just cost you three more invitations on Marthas Vineyard.

Well, thats okay, Dershowitz said with a smile. I dont mind that. Look, Im winning the battle on Marthas Vineyard. The people of Marthas Vineyard are reasonable and decent and they have begun to really condemn the small number of people who have said, Look, because you have spent your life defending everybodys civil liberties were going to stop talking to you.

Not bothering to explain the Vineyard-goers sudden outrage over everybodys civil liberties,Dershowitz then reiterated his pro-Hillary political leanings.

Look,everybody would have been happier on Marthas Vineyard including me if Hillary Clinton had been elected president. If she were now being impeached or prosecuted or threatened, Id be her strongest champion. I actually wrote a book previously defending President Bill Clintons right not to be impeached.

Today Id be a hero of Marthas Vineyard if I were making exactly the same arguments but making them for Hillary Clinton rather than helping Donald Trump

Comparing the Vineyarders to politically correct college students, Dershowitz told Smerconish, its all about small-minded intolerance and an unwillingness to talk. He said the adults of Marthas Vineyard, like the college kids, want safe spaces and trigger warnings not to be confronted with a different point of view.

Dershowitz, who tells The New York Times today that the reaction to his Trump stance has been much worse than when he defended O.J. Simpson or Claus von Bulow or Leona Helmsley or Michael Milken or Mike Tyson because in those cases people were critical of me, but they were prepared to discuss it, isnt backing off, win, lose or drawing no beachside cocktail invites.

Im not going to change my position, Dershowitz told Smerconish. Im going to continue to make my position I make it in my book, The Case Against Impeaching Trump Im going to continue making it in any format that Im asked to make it.

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Alan Dershowitz To CNN: Im Winning The Battle On Marthas …

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July 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

Alan Dershowitz: Martha’s Vineyard liberal elites shunning …

Alan Dershowitz says he has been shunned first by old political allies who have stopped inviting him to dinners, and now by liberal elites who are trying to exclude him from their social circles on Martha’s Vineyard.

The reason, he says, is his unrelenting defense of President Trump’s civil liberties a position that Dershowitz says he would have also taken for Hillary Clinton had she won the presidency and was similarly under investigation amid calls for impeachment.

The Harvard law professor and attorney who defended O.J. Simpson says that he is a lifelong liberal but a hard-liner on civil liberties and that he’s not about to flip his views just because of attempts to ostracize him.

These childish efforts to shun me because I refused to change my position on civil liberties that I have kept for half a century discourages vibrant debate and may dissuade other civil libertarians from applying their neutral principles to a president of whom they disapprove, Dershowitz wrote in a recent column for the Hill. But one good thing is that being shunned by some ‘old friends’ on Martha’s Vineyard has taught me who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were.

Dershowitz has been criticized by some legal scholars for making the case that Trump cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice simply by exercising one of the powers of his office to fire James B. Comey as FBI director even if Trump’s motive may have been to shut down an investigation.

In a column for the Washington Examiner last summer, Dershowitz wrote that Trump had the power to order Comey to end the investigation into Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser.

The president can, as a matter of constitutional law, direct the attorney general, and his subordinate, the director of the FBI, tell them what to do, whom to prosecute and whom not to prosecute, Dershowitz wrote. Indeed, the president has the constitutional authority to stop the investigation of any person by simply pardoning that person.

[Alan Dershowitzs new reality: Tweeted by Trump, shunned by liberal friends]

Dershowitz also has been critical of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether actions by Trump and his subordinates constitute efforts to obstruct that investigation.

Appearing on Fox & Friends in December, Dershowitz said Mueller had been sloppy in conducting the investigation and raised questions about whether the probe was biased against Trump. On Hannity in April, Dershowitz said Mueller appeared to be laundering information to another prosecutorial authority. Dershowitz was referring to theongoing investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York on Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, which was referred to the agency by Mueller.

Dershowitz has earned praise in conservative circles, including from talk host Rush Limbaugh and Trump, of course.

But Dershowitz, according to the man himself, has become the subject of scorn in other circles, despite having voted for Clinton and twice for Barack Obama. He reminded people that he had contributed money to the Clinton campaign and had opposed appointing a special counsel to investigate her campaign, he wrote for the Hill.

But that is not good enough for some of my old friends on Martha’s Vineyard, he wrote. For them, it is enough that what I have said about the Constitution might help Trump.

[Jeffrey Toobin to his former professor Alan Dershowitz: Whats happened to you?]

In a heated exchange on Anderson Cooper’s CNN program in March, one of Dershowitz’s former students accused the legal professor of carrying water for Donald Trump.

Alan, I don’t know what’s going on with you, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told his longtime friend and mentor.

I’m not carrying his water; I’m saying the exact same thing I’ve said for 50 years, Dershowitz responded. And, Jeffrey, you ought to know that. You were my student. The fact that it applies to Trump now rather than applying to Bill Clinton is why people like you have turned against me.

Dershowitz likened his alleged shunning on Martha’s Vineyard and elsewhere to McCarthyism in the 1950s, when lawyers who represented suspected Communists were ostracized.

I wonder if the professor who refuses to listen to anything I have to say also treats his students similarly, Dershowitz wrote. Would he listen to a student who actively supported Trump? What about one who simply supported his civil liberties?

Silence is not my style. Cowardice is not my philosophy, he added. I tend to speak up when I disagree with Republicans, and I intend to speak up when I disagree with Democrats.

Specifically, he called out Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who recently urgedpeople to harass Trump administration officials in public.

She like those who shun me on Martha’s Vineyard is part of the problem rather than the solution, Dershowitz wrote.

Dershowitz’s column unleashed a fresh round of counterattacks and mockery on Twitter.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a vocal critic of Trump, said: You seem bothered your friends in Martha’s Vineyard no longer invite you to nice dinners. I note the @POTUS you defend has ripped away babies & kids from parents.

Lol, poor Alan Dershowitz is getting the side eye at Chilmark General Store, Eric Boehlert, writer for the liberal Shareblue Media, said referring to a grocery store on Martha’s Vineyard.

Responding to his critics, Dershowitz said Tuesday that he is reveling not whining.

I’m proud of taking an unpopular, principled position that gets me shunned by partisan zealots. It’s not about me. I couldn’t care less about being shunned by such people, he tweeted. It’s about their unwillingness to engage in dialogue.

Unwillingness to hear views with which one disagrees, he said, is a dangerous sign of the times.

Fred Barbash and Derek Hawkins contributed to this article.

Read more:

A bold new legal defense for Trump: Presidents cannot obstruct justice

Be careful what you wish for Max!: Trump takes aim at Waters after she calls for public harassment of his Cabinet

The owner of the Red Hen explains why she asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave

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Dershowitz unloads on NY socialist Dem, Martha’s Vineyard …

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday he wont let radicals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders steal the spirit of the Democratic Party and doubled-down on his attack on fellow liberals who shunned him at Martha’s Vineyard.

I wont let the Democrats steal my party from me. I want to regain the center, Dershowitz toldWABC RadiosCurtis and Cosby show, noting that he will remain a Democrat as as long as theres some chance the Democratic Party can return to normalcy.

I want to make sure that the radical Left, the woman who got elected in the Bronx and Queens to Congress on the Democratic ticket, that they and Sanders and others dont represent the Democratic Party, he continued, referring to socialist Ocasio-Cortez who pulled off a shock victory last week against incumbent Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley.

I want a fight within the Democratic Party to restore it to the days when it was a great centrist party, when it united people rather than divided people, he added.

“I want a fight within the Democratic Party to restore it to the days when it was a great centrist party, when it united people rather than divided people.”

ALAN DERSHOWITZ SLAMS MARTHAS VINEYARD LIBERALS FOR SHUNNING HIM OVER TRUMP DEFENSE

Dershowitz, a frequent guest on Fox News, also weighed in on the controversy surrounding his recent claims that he was ostracized at Marthas Vineyard by his fellow liberals over his defense of constitutional rights of President Donald Trump.

The idea that some of these people arent talking to me is not a punishment, its a great reward. I am so pleased, he said during the interview. Its a red badge of courage for me that there are some people who prefer to shut down debate and not talk to me.

These are people who have asked me for help over the years, who have asked me for support when their kid gets busted on a marijuana charge, or on possession of alcohol, Im the first one they call, he added. But as soon as I defend the rights of Donald Trump or anybody else they disagree with, Im am a pariah.

These are people who have asked me for help over the years, who have asked me for support when their kid gets busted on a marijuana charge, or on possession of alcohol, Im the first one they call.”

Dershowitz wrote inThe Hillthat he is a liberal Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and contributed handsomely to her campaign. But he said his principled defense of civil liberties that could benefit Trump was too much to swallow for his social circle.

So they are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life on Marthas Vineyard, he wrote.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter@LukasMikelionis.

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July 5, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

Alan Dershowitz says hes been shunned on Marthas …

Alan Dershowitz has defended accused murderers O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow in court, but it appears his defense of President Donald Trump has crossed a line for some of his friends.

The famed trial lawyer and Harvard professor lamented his plight in an op-ed published last week by The Hill, saying hes been shunned for his defense of Trumps civil liberties.

Dershowitz said hes not a Trump supporter and he voted for Hillary Clinton, but he feels people unfairly brand him a fan of Trump because he has publicly opposed special counsel Robert Muellers investigation of the Trump campaign, on legal grounds.

But that is not good enough for some of my old friends on Marthas Vineyard, he wrote. One of them, an academic at a distinguished university, has told people that he would not attend any dinner or party to which I was invited.

Either you are for Trump or against him, and that is all some people need to know to make judgments about you, he said.

Dershowitz went so far as to compare his social snubs to 1950s-era McCarthyism, when many innocent people were unfairly blacklisted and fired from their jobs after being accused of being communists.

His complaints didnt garner much sympathy on social media.

Dershowitz said hes learned one big lesson: One good thing is that being shunned by some old friends on Marthas Vineyard has taught me who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were.

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Alan Dershowitz says hes been shunned on Marthas …

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July 5, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

Alan Dershowitz laments being shunned on Marthas …

One downside to publicly defending President Trump? The liberal elite on Marthas Vineyard wont like you anymore.

At least, thats what renowned Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz is lamenting.

In an op-ed piece for The Hill published last week, Dershowitz said his friends on Marthas Vineyard are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life because he has defended Trumps civil liberties.

Handout

Alan Dershowitz (right) with Larry Ruttman at a Martha’s Vineyard Sharks game in 2014.

Dershowitz reportedly moved to the Vineyard after retiring from his Harvard Law professor job in 2014. He even offered pal John Kerry advice on how to fit in on Marthas Vineyard when Kerry swapped his Nantucket home for one in Chilmark.

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But Kerry might want to rethink taking any advice on how to be popular on the island after reading Dershowitzs recent piece. The renowned defense attorney wrote that even though hes politically liberal and voted for Hillary Clinton, that is not good enough for some of my old friends on Marthas Vineyard.

One of those friends, described by Dershowitz as an academic at a distinguished university, has told people that he would not attend any dinner or party to which I was invited. Other friends have demanded trigger warnings so that they can be assured of having safe spaces in which they will not encounter me or my ideas, Dershowitz said.

But ever the optimist, Dershowitz said the whole ordeal has a silver lining: It has taught him who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were.

From a personal point of view, I could not care less about being shunned by people whose views regarding dialogue I do not respect, he wrote. I will not change my views as a result of these attempts to ostracize me, but there are some who may remain silent for fear of being shunned. Silence is not my style. Cowardice is not my philosophy.

The anecdote supported an argument Dershowitz was making about Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who had called on supporters to harass Trump and members of his administration.

Right now I am speaking up in disagreement with Maxine Waters, Dershowitz wrote in the op-ed. She like those who shun me on Marthas Vineyard is part of the problem rather than the solution.

Dershowitz has recently surprised many by becoming an outspoken supporter of Trumps legal positions, arguing that a special counsel shouldnt have been appointed and claiming theres no evidence that the president has obstructed justice. He has even become known as a sort of Trump whisperer, gaining the presidents ear after making his opinion on the special counsel case known on national TV news networks.

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Alan Dershowitz laments being shunned on Marthas …

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July 3, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

Alan Dershowitz, A Schmuck – Wonkette

There are perks to being the only Harvard professor willing to shill for the Bush League Mussolini. Everyone else has to haul ass to the Fox studio and sit for hair and makeup. Not Alan Dershowitz! He just parks his laptop in Pee Wee’s playhouse and Skypes in that rant. Is he even wearing pants? We hope never to find out!

More to the point, what the hell is he even saying here?

O RLY? Alan Dershowitz is joining the fight against pre-trial detention? Did the bronzed braintrust know they were inviting a Social Justice Warrior to join them on the leather couch? No wonder they made him call in from a fish bowl!

Yes, it is to America’s everlasting shame that we have over half a million people locked up without any determination of guilt.

Graphic via Prison Policy Initiative

We set bail without regard for a defendant’s ability to pay, and we spend hundreds of millions of dollars jailing people who pose no danger at all to their communities. And if you live in Maryland Districts 11 or 23B, your chance to get rid of Delegates Bobby Zirkin and Joseph Vallario — the second- and third-highest recipients of bail bondsmen’s campaign contributions in the entire country — is coming on June 26. Why does little Maryland receive almost as much in bail bond campaign cash as California or Florida? DUNNO! We should get Dersh on that ASAP!

But we digress! Because Alan Dershowitz is only invoking those unjustly incarcerated brown dudes to pretend that poor Paul Manafort has been thrown in jail based solely on the indictment. And Alan Dershowitz knows that’s total horseshit.

Last week, Paul Manafort was a free man — albeit one who had turned millions of dollars in assets over to the federal courts and was sporting a set of matching ankle bracelets. Do poor brown dudes get to spend the night in their own beds when they are indicted for all the crimes? NO, THEY DO NOT. So it is stunning chutzpah for Dershowitz to pretend that poor Paul Manafort was railroaded by an unjust legal system. The guy had every advantage of race and class. All he had to do was quit criming for a hot second. And he couldn’t even do that!

Paul Manafort is in jail because he was a goddamn idiot who allegedly sent WhatsApp messages coaching witnesses in his own trial, and saved the messages to his own iCloud. That’s “bless our hearts and other parts”-level stupid.

And we expect this illiterate dipshit to pretend that Manafort was “sentenced.”

But not a guy who taught at Harvard Law School for fifty years! Judge Berman Jackson had “probable cause to believe that [Manafort] has committed a Federal, State, or local crime while on release” — i.e. obstruction of justice and false statements to the FBI — and that’s why he’s going to jail. Which Alan Dershowitz knows goddamn well. So he needs to close up his laptop and knock off that live webcam porn show he puts on in his attic for the drooling morons at Fox.

Seriously, Zaydie! This is a shandah, and it’s fucking beneath you!

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June 21, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

What Happened to Alan Dershowitz? – POLITICO Magazine

NEW YORK If you wanted to feel the full force of the intellectual whirlpool that is American politics in 2018, the place to go on April 2 was the Village Underground, a nightclub beneath West 3rd Street, where Alan Dershowitz, the longtime Harvard Law professor and civil liberties lion, was debating the future of American democracy on the side of President Donald Trump.

Opposing him were a National Review writer and a former FBI agent, arguing that the special investigation into ties between Russia and Trumps presidential campaign is well within the bounds of American law. Dershowitz, along with a conservative columnist for the Washington Examiner, was making the case that the Mueller investigation is dangerous to our entire system. In the room, which is normally a comedy club, it was impossible to shake the feeling that something was off. Two years ago, it wouldve seemed far more natural for the quartet to swap partners and switch sides.

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On our way out, my wife and I were handed free copies of Dershowitzs newest book, Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy, in which Dershowitz writes that special prosecutor Robert Mueller is subjecting Trump to the legal equivalent of a colonoscopy.

The woman behind us in line took her free book, turned to her husband and asked, What happened to Alan Dershowitz?

In certain circlesthe legal academy, defense attorneys, Marthas Vineyardit is the question. Dershowitz, an iconic civil libertarian and criminal defense lawyer, who circulates between the liberal redoubts of Miami, New York and the Vineyard, has emerged in the past year as the most distinguished legal defender of Trump. Hes met Trump at Mar-a-Lago, and he dined with him at the White House the day after the FBI raid on Michael Cohens office. Hes a regular presence on TV, especially Fox News, where hes a reliable voice on the presidents side against the investigation. In April, following the Cohen raid, Dershowitz appeared on Hannity nine timesincluding three days in a row. His message is clear: Muellers investigation is a witch hunt, and although he doesnt think Trump should fire Mueller, the president would be within his rights to do it.

People everywhere ask what happened to him, said Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge and lecturer at Harvard Law School who has known Dershowitz for years. I get that from everyone who knows I know him.

Anyone under 30 could be forgiven for seeing Dershowitz as just another talking head on Trump TV, but to Gertner and her peers, thats not even remotely who Dershowitz is. Gen Xers may know him as a celebrity lawyer, a member of O.J. Simpsons defense team. Baby boomers know him for clearing the socialite Claus von Bulow of poisoning his wife in the 1980s. But Dershowitz had a 20-year career before that, during which he established himself as one of the most prominent and consistent defenders of civil liberties in America.

In 1963, as a law clerk, he drafted a crucial memo for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg that led to the death penalty being ruled unconstitutional. (The ruling was later reversed.) At Harvard, he sued the universitys all-male social clubs, and though he didnt prevail, he was ahead of his time: Harvard recently severed its ties with the clubs. His legal scholarship articulates an expansive view of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and even animal rights.

Over this storied career, Dershowitzs public persona has remained more or less unchanged: loud, provocative, brilliant and principled, if also relentlessly self-promoting. And, until recently, his positions have been tolerated, if not always embraced, by the legal academy and universally acknowledged for their moral seriousness.

About a year ago, after Muellers appointment on May 17, that started to change. Around then, Dershowitznever one to overlook a celebrity being railroadedstarted getting more TV airtime for his argument that a sitting president could not be guilty of obstruction of justice. The liberal intelligentsia recoiled. Dershowitz speaks openly of having been shunned by friends and condemned by relatives since theneven, he told me, at his familys recent Passover Seder, where his grandson and nephew urged him to dial down his public defense of the president. Hes been harshly critiqued by former Harvard colleagues and within the small, tightly entwined community of civil libertarians. In late March, when legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin confronted him directly on Anderson Cooper 360I dont know whats going on with you this is not who you used to beit felt like a moment of collective catharsis for liberals who see Trump as a threat to democracy.

Alan Dershowitz during a 2010 interview in Jerusalem. | Getty Images

But is Dershowitz really a turncoat? I spent two months interviewing leading civil libertarians and Dershowitzs former colleagues, reading through his lifes work, and interviewing him twice. In one view, Dershowitz, at the end of his career, has finally crossed the line, defending a demagogue who rejects and threatens the very principles of liberty and fairness to which Dershowitz has dedicated his life. In another view, the people whove lost their way are the liberals and civil libertarians, blinded by their rage for Trump, who have dropped their principles in a moment of political threat and are taking out their anger on a man who has been their staunchest ally.

Maybe the question isnt what happened to Alan Dershowitz.

Maybe its what happened to everyone else.

***

When Alan Dershowitz arrived at Yale Law School in the fall of 1959, there was no road map on how to be an American civil liberties lawyer, let alone an Alan Dershowitz. Even now its difficult to name anyone comparable. There have been other prominent lawyers who have represented controversial political causes and unpopular defendantsClarence Darrow, William Kuntsler and Ramsey Clark are obvious candidatesbut none carried on their careers with the publicness with which Dershowitz has conducted his life. There isnt another lawyer like Dershowitz, civil rights attorney Ron Kuby told me. Alan is sui generis and he knows it.

At his Sutton Place apartment, overlooking the East River, Dershowitz explained to me that he had no role model. I have no lawyer heroes, he said. Every lawyer I know has been deeply flawed in one way or another. The closest comparison he could come up with was to Edward Bennett Williams, the Washington trial attorney who defended Jimmy Hoffa and Mafia boss Frank Costelloexcept that Ed Bennett Williams is to the Catholic Church as Judaism is to me.

Maybe the question isnt what happened to Alan Dershowitz. Maybe its what happened to everyone else.

The decision to pursue his path in the law was organic. I never decided to be a civil libertarian, Dershowitz said. I was born a civil libertarian. I was brought up a civil libertarian. At 14, against the wishes of his parents, Dershowitz signed a communist-inspired petition opposing the death penalty for Ethel and Julius Rosenberg as a matter of principle, even though he personally detested communism. But he hadnt heard the term libertarian until he took an ethics course at Brooklyn College with John Hospers, later the 1972 presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, and even then Hospers libertarianism had an economic emphasis on free markets that didnt resonate with Dershowitzs left-leaning social politics.

Today, the idea of civil libertarianism still doesnt quite have a defined spot on the intellectual and political map. The right to bear arms, the school-choice movement, desegregation, abortion rights and fetal rightsa set of issues wildly incompatible in the rest of public lifehave all been defended under the mantle of civil liberties. Dershowitzs conception of pure civil libertarianism resembles the original positionthe thought experiment developed by the philosopher John Rawls, with whom Dershowitz was in a reading group at Harvard. Rawls, widely regarded as the most important political philosopher of the 20th century, suggested people should think about ethics as if they were operating behind a veil of ignoranceas if they were building a society without knowing what their race, gender and social standing would be, and were trying to develop rules that would work to everyones benefit. Its an attempt to think about justice purely from the standpoint of fairness. In the contemporary context, the challenge might be to consider what you would think about, say, the Electoral College without knowing whether it would work to the benefit of your party or the opposition.

Rawls is ordinarily classified as a liberal philosopher, since justice as fairness requires equal rights, equal opportunity and, generally speaking, fair treatment of the powerless. But some of the neutral principles that would likely emerge from that approachsay, every person should be entitled to the presumption of innocence and a vigorous legal defensebenefit not only the powerless but also the rich and powerful, like, say, Donald Trump.

I call it the shoe-on-the-other-foot test, Dershowitz told me. Several days after our first talk, the FBI raided Michael Cohens offices, and he appeared on Fox News to say much the same thing. You know, if this were the shoe on the other foot, Dershowitz told Hannity, if this were Hillary Clinton being investigated and they went into her lawyers officethe ACLU would be on every television station in America jumping up and down.

Some of Alan Dershowitzs most prominent clients (clockwise, from upper left): New York hotel queen Leona Helmsley, who was defended by Dershowitz during her 1990 battle against charges of tax fraud; O.J. Simpson, shown here talking with Dershowitz and attorney F. Lee Bailey during Simpsons 1995 trial for the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman; televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, at a 1991 resentencing hearing for her husband, Rev. Jim Bakker, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison for a combination of fraud and conspiracy charges; Danish socialite Claus von Bulow, who, in 1985, was acquitted on two counts of attempting to murder his wife, Martha Sunny von Bulow. | AP; Getty Images

Dershowitzs supporters see his position on Trump as consistent with the rest of his career. If you look objectively at what hes doing, hes applying neutral civil liberties principles to Trump, as he would to anyone else, said Harvey Silverglate, a civil rights lawyer in Boston and a longtime friend of Dershowitzs. Harvard professor Jack Goldsmith told me, similarly, Alan has obviously throughout his entire career been a principled defender of civil liberties, especially for those under criminal investigation. His commentary in the last year is entirely consistent with that lifelong commitment.

In this telling, Dershowitz is a still point in a turning world, a zealot for neutral civil liberties so dedicated to his principles that hes willing to defend even people whose politics could undermine or destroy them. To Dershowitzs detractors, this is precisely the problem. They say Dershowitz has failed to recognize that were in a new moment, when for the first time in our lives a president is flirting with authoritarianism in a way that, if unchecked, could bring down the very system that Dershowitz has spent his life defending.

***

Dershowitz is careful to say, over and over, that hes not Trumps lawyer. Hes not providing legal advice to the president, and hes had no conversations under the cloak of attorney-client privilege. But his public statements, argued everywhere from Fox News to the Village Underground, amount to a case with a clear legal shape, the kind of thing a lawyer might argue, if it ever came to court.

The first pillar of the argument is intellectual: special prosecutors like Mueller are a really bad idea. They have enormous power, and to justify their existence theyre prone to dive down rabbit holes, often barely connected to the original charge. (Bill Clintons impeachment in December 1998, for perjury regarding his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, stemmed from an investigation into a real estate deal begun by special prosecutor Robert Fiske in January 1994almost five years earlier.) Moreover, special prosecutors simply arent as good at getting an answer to a factual question as a select congressional committee or an independent commission, which is how Dershowitz says Russian election interference should have been investigated.

He has been sounding this note for years. The subjects of such investigations are often hounded and bankrupted. The independent counsel have no accountability or continuity, he wrote in his 1998 book Sexual McCarthyism: Clinton, Starr and the Emerging Constitutional Crisis. And he has company. Special prosecutors are like dinosaurs roaming the Earth in search of prey, said NYU professor Burt Neuborne, former national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The sad reality appears to be that most people care about perjury only when they disapprove of the substance of the lie or of the person who is lying, Dershowitz said in Dec. 1998 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in regards to the looming impeachment of President Bill Clinton. | Getty Images

Every lawyer I spoke with for this story acknowledged the consistency and validity of Dershowitzs concern with special counsel overreach. This is a classic civil liberties position, Gertner said. In the case of Trump, some questioned whether Dershowitz has made clear that this is an institutional argument as opposed to a personal attack on Mueller. Any person who has listened to Alan on a regular basis would not think he only had a problem with the appointment of Mueller, Toobin told me.

Indeed, Dershowitz has critiqued several of Muellers tactics specifically. Last August, he challenged Muellers decision to empanel a second grand jury in the District of Columbia as a tactic to gain a more favorable jury pool in potential criminal trials; more recently, hes raised questions about Muellers conduct as a U.S. attorney in Boston when four innocent people went to prison to protect an FBI informant named Whitey Bulger, and he has been harshly critical of the Cohen raid. It wasnt Mueller who sought the warrant, but its the sort of rabbit-hole consequence that Dershowitz has been railing about.

The Cohen warrant has widened an already-existing rift in the civil liberties world. In normal times, the FBI raid is the kind of aggressive prosecutorial move that would drive civil libertarians crazy: it puts privileged communications at risk of being exposed. I see no adequate moral reason for invading one of the most sacred relationships in our constitutional democracy, Silverglate said. This seems like it should be a bread-and-butter type issue for the ACLU, but the organization has been nearly silent on the Cohen warrant. In an op-ed in The Hill, Dershowitz accused the organization of having abandoned its role as a neutral defender of civil liberties. He wrote, For the ACLU, he wrote, getting Trump, trumps civil liberties.

This point is central to Dershowitz, who sees the ACLU as having turned away from traditional liberal values toward a progressive politics. The ACLU declined my requests for an interview for this story; its national legal director, David Cole, emailed only to say, I think Alan Dershowitz is wildly overreacting and to refer me to a blog post on the ACLU website in which he writes: The ACLU is the nations premier defender of privacy. But we also believe in the rule of law as an essential foundation for civil liberties and civil rights. And perhaps the first principle of the rule of law is that no onenot even the president, let alone his lawyeris above the law.

Dershowitzs argument isnt crazy. Whats unclear is why hes making it at all.

Other civil libertarians acknowledged the legitimacy of Dershowitzs concern, but said it lacked important context. No-knock warrants are not unusual. Raiding a lawyers office happens rarely but regularly. None of this is new, said civil rights attorney Ronald Kuby. It doesnt make it right. But it also doesnt make Donald J. Trump the victim of a rapacious criminal justice system.

The second pillar of Dershowitzs argument is more technical, and more controversial: A president cannot be found guilty for exercising his constitutional authority, he argues, and his constitutional authority includes the right to fire anyone in the executive branch, even if that person is investigating him. In his view, President Richard Nixon did not obstruct justice by ordering the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Rather, Dershowitz says, Nixon obstructed justice by telling subordinates to lie to the FBI, by paying hush money to potential witnesses against him, and by destroying evidence. By this logic, Trump could fire Mueller or Rod Rosenstein for any reason without criminally obstructing justice.

Whether Dershowitz is right involves a complex legal argument that cant objectively be resolved. Those who disagree with him, including University of Chicago Law School professors Daniel Hemel and Eric Posner, argue that a president obstructs justice when he interferes with an investigation for a corrupt motivewhich, presumably, would include firing an investigator who might uncover something bad about him. Generally speaking, assessing motive is a dodgy business in the lawand Gertner hastens to point out that firing Comey isnt the only basis for obstruction charges that could be levied against Trumpbut Dershowitzs argument isnt crazy.

Whats unclear is why hes making it at all. Almost no legal experts think Trump will face criminal obstruction charges. A sitting president has never been indicted, and a pair of Justice Department legal opinions, from 1973 and 2000, hold that a sitting president cannot be tried or indicted. Former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger recently argued that theres more wiggle room regarding indictment, and of course the opinions could be revisited, but criminal charges against Trump seem highly unlikely.

So what is the argument about? When TV pundits talk about obstruction of justice, theyre not really talking about the statutorily defined crime. Theyre using it as a kind of shorthand for attempting to rise above the lawthe kind of thing that might trigger Congress to launch an impeachment proceeding. Arguing that Trump couldnt be impeached for corrupt actionsas Dershowitz says is also true under certain fact scenariosis a fundamentally different matter. This isnt a civil libertarian position, Gertner said. Its an authoritarian position. If anything, it purports to talk about constitutional power. It isnt Alans usual bailiwick and in my opinion it is false.

If Alan is right, Neuborne concluded, then the president is above the law and we have a very different system than we think we have.

In the West Village, Dershowitz went even further down that path, and argued that the statutory definition of obstruction of justice would still be relevant in an impeachment trial, over which the chief justice would preside. Dershowitz argued that the presence of the chief justice at an impeachment trial, and the inclusion of criteria for impeachment in the Constitution, proves that the process is not purely political and that legal standards should still be relevant. In such a proceeding, Dershowitz said the first thing hed do is to file a motion to dismissin other words, a motion that the alleged conduct did not meet the minimal legal threshold. Its the weakest part of Dershowitzs argument.

It is inconceivable to me that Chief Justice [John] Roberts would accept an argument that the president is above the lawmore immune than King George was, Neuborne told me from Stanford, where he is teaching this semester. In the real world, the argument wouldnt last five minutes. Silverglate said, What Trump has done isnt appropriate for criminal charges, but much of what he has done would be grounds for impeachment. Silverglate rejected the notion that somehow the Supreme Court would swoop in and dismiss impeachment charges on legal grounds. I dont see how a decision to impeach would be subject to judicial review, he said.

If Alan is right, Neuborne concluded, then the president is above the law and we have a very different system than we think we have.

***

Most of these scenarios are solely fodder for late-night talk shows. Almost all experts agree its extremely improbable that Trump will be criminally charged, and that if he is impeached, its unlikely to be just for this small set of clearly noncriminal acts. If all this is true, what is Dershowitz trying to accomplish?

The most impassioned criticisms of Dershowitz concern tone and audiencea polite way of saying that Dershowitz shouldnt air his concerns on Fox News. One can detect in this critique some measure of resentment and jealousy. Dershowitz is a terrific TV guest. Its also clearly true that Dershowitz is drawn to celebrity and attention. His clients and advisees have included Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Yo-Yo Ma, Sheldon Adelson, Natalie Portman, Mark Rich, Saul Bellow, David Mamet and, as of last week, Harvey Weinstein, who he is aiding in an effort to recover personal emails from his former company. Dershowitz has recounted many times that when he had dinner at Mar-a-Lago in March 2017, he was visited at his table by Trump himself, who started schmoozing and courting his vote for 2020. One has the image of iridescent moths drawn to each others glow. At the age of 79, a time when many of his counterparts have long since dialed back their public presence, the Trump story has given Dershowitz a vehicle back into the thick of it.

When I asked Dershowitz in early April why he appeared so often on Fox News, he said he was furious with CNN for not booking him more often and had asked the network whether hed been blacklisted. Dershowitz is on CNN more often now, he says, but his beef with the network seems to presume that he needs to offer his views on TV, and that if Fox News is the outlet that wants to put him on, then so be it. Toobin, whos been sparring with Dershowitz more regularly on CNN, asks, Is Alan Dershowitz so important that he has to be on all the time?

Dershowitz at a Feb. 2016 event for Hulus Triumph the Insult Comic Dogs Election Special. | Getty Images

The problem, as many see it, is that in going on Fox Newsa network whose hosts tend to operate as attack dogs for Trump and a kind of security blanket for his supportersDershowitz is retailing an argument in a place where it has an entirely different meaning. The shoe-is on-the-other-foot moral test is the first, basic exercise in critical thinking that America needs to engage in, Kuby said, But thats not a conversation you can have on the Fox News channel. Neuborne agreed. I want to try and separate the intrinsic merits of Alans concerns from the propriety of the venuewhether we should be debating or expressing them on Fox News, he said. Alan knows the difference between a serious intellectual investigation and a political propaganda barrage.

Dershowitz also knows, as everyone does, that the president is an avid Fox News watcher, to the point where he personally called into Fox & Friends on a recent morning. I talk to the president on television all the time, he told Isaac Chotiner of Slate. Apparently he listens. In this way, Dershowitz has publicly laid out several legal arguments to Trump, including the idea that it would be unwise to voluntarily speak with Mueller and that Rod Rosenstein should be recused. And Trump isnt the only important audience his views are reaching. Dershowitz himself has said that Trump should not fire Mueller, but no one has done more than he has to give cover to Republicans in Congress who might choose to look the other way were Trump to do so.

Watching Dershowitzs recent appearances on Hannity, one has the feeling that hes allowing himself to be used. In the lead-in to one segment, Hannity said of Muellers tactics, This is what we expect in Venezuela. This is not the United States or anything. Its a moment crying out for Dershowitz to point out Hannitys own inconsistenciesthe conversations hes entertained about Lock Her Up, and whether Hillary Clinton should be tried for treason and executed for the unsubstantiated allegations surrounding the Uranium One sale, all of which have the ring of Venezuela. Hannitys response to Muellers first charges was to tweet, When will @HillaryClinton be indicted? But Dershowitz says none of this.

Theres no question that everybody uses everybody on television, Dershowitz told me, when I confronted him with the concerns about his Fox appearances. Dershowitz also pointed out that he chastised Hannity for not disclosing his relationship with Cohen, that hes tried to strike a better balance in his appearances, and that his microphone is often cut off during the introductions to his segments. But Dershowitz said he thought the appearances important. I think of myself as a public educator, he said, adding, I always prefer to speak with audiences that disagree with me. He says that he gets a positive response from Hannitys audience and that many thank him for educating them about civil libertarian concerns.

Im sort of half-sympathetic for Alan pointing out that the left has been inconsistent, but thats only one side of the story, Neuborne said. Conservatives are inconsistent, too. On that point, Dershowitz agrees. Almost everyones a hypocrite, he says.

As he sees it, the best way to achieve his goaland to get it the attention it deservesis by defending the most odious clients in the most provocative possible way on the very principles liberals claim to love.

Talking to him, its not hard to get the impression that exposing that truththe hypocrisy of both sidesmay be his ultimate project. As he sees it, the best way to achieve his goaland to get it the attention it deservesis by defending the most odious clients in the most provocative possible way on the very principles liberals claim to love. One of Dershowitzs favorite quotes is H.L. Menckens observation that the trouble about fighting for human freedom is that you have to spend much of your life defending sons of bitches.

Watching Dershowitz do his thing is supremely challenging. It feels in-your-face, almost obnoxious, which is probably part of the point. What makes it especially tough to take is it seems as if Dershowitz thinks he alone is immune from the curse of hypocrisy. But his core point is worth reflecting upon. Keeping ones bearings in the Trump era is hard. So many tectonic plates have shifted that its often impossible even for experts to figure out how they ended up standing where they are. Have civil libertarians ever defended FISA courts and no-knock warrants? Its one thing for the ACLU not to take the lead questioning federal agents barging into the office of the presidents former lawyer, and quite another to issue a statement praising the rule of law. Would liberals really feel the way they do if the shoe were on the other foot?

I do believe there will be a reckoning, Gertner told me. And people who enabled this corruption will have to be held to account. The question is, when the judgment of history is rendered, who will be deemed corruptRepublicans for turning a blind eye to blatant election interference, Democrats for politicizing apolitical institutions like the ACLU, or civil libertarians for wavering in their commitment to foundational principles? Likely theres blame enough to go around. But its surely unfair to brand Dershowitz a racist, as Rep. Maxine Waters did in the aftermath of the D.C. grand jury controversy, or a Trump apologist, as have Slates Dahlia Lithwick and Salons Jefferson Morley, among others.

Dershowitz proudly voted for Clinton, he opposed the Trump travel ban as a matter of policy and he called allegations that Trump had shared classified information with Russias foreign minister about ISISs plans to use laptops as airplane bombs the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president. When I asked him, he flatly told me collusion should be a crime and that it should be illegal to fire a special prosecutor. At one point during the Village Underground debate, Dershowitz threw up his hands and exclaimed, Whos defending anything Trump did?

Calling him names feels reductionist, convenientas if wed rather lounge in the comfort of our own echo chambers than deal with the vexing and even annoying challenges that hes made a career of raising. Alan Dershowitz is one of the good guys, Kuby says bluntly. What does it say about us if we cast him out?

***

Ones bottom line on this ultimate question almost certainly turns on ones perception of the gravity of the current threat to democracy. Perhaps Alan Dershowitz has a greater capacity than the rest of us to separate the transient anxieties of this moment from the bigger risks, and perhaps history will look back upon the Trump presidency as the sort of challenge that demonstrates the resilience of a liberal democracya seminal ethical moment like the Skokie marches or the Nuremberg trials, in which society protects procedural rights as it simultaneously expresses profound disagreement with those whose rights are being protected.

Or perhaps the democratic project is under existential threatand history, if it survives as an independent academic enterprise, will look back pityingly upon civil libertarians who coddled power with their concerns about prosecutorial overreach while a fundamentally corrupt president undermined the great American project.

For his part, Dershowitz is optimistic. I think the fear is not substantial, he said of the threat to democracy. The media is very strong. Were seeing some Republicans draw red lines. Were seeing the academy stand up to him. If anything, Silverglate sees our treatment of Trump as the threat, and thinks Dershowitz does too. I have no doubt Alan feels danger to this society if Trump is run roughshod over, he said.

Others take a darker view, as a raft of seriously argued recent books about Trump and democracy attest. In How Democracies Die, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt identify four warning signs that a leader puts democracy at risk: a weak commitment to democratic rules, denial of the legitimacy of opponents, toleration of violence, and a willingness to curb civil liberties or the media. With the exception of Richard Nixon, they write, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century. On the other hand, Donald Trump met them all.

In this framework, empowering Trumpeven as a matter of dispassionate intellectual principlebrings us one step closer to a regime that erases the very values that Dershowitz says hes defending. I fear Dershowitz has allowed his celebrity to stand as an apology for a great danger to the civil liberties he claims to cherish, said Northeastern Law School professor Michael Meltsner, former first assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Alan is fiddling while Washington burns.

Kuby said grand concerns with democracy are part of the reason he recently left talk radio. Someday my grandchildren will ask, Grandpa, what did you do in those extraordinary times. I didnt want my answer to be, I entertained many of his supporters on radio while I made a lot of money.

Neuborne said, I think were in about as risky a place as weve been in my lifetime. Dershowitz, he says, has convinced himself that only he can be the arbiter of principle, which is a dangerous psychological place to be. Ive been there myself. But Neuborne takes heart in the upsurge of interest in the democratic process. I think the country is going to heal itself, and thats why Im so sad about Alan. He could be part of the healing process instead of making the festering wound even worse.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the date and address of the Village Underground debate on the future of democracy.

Evan Mandery is the author of A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America, and is a professor at the City University of New York.

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Alan Dershowitz: Appointing Mueller ‘Serious Mistake’ All …

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz on Wednesday defended his criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller an argument President Donald Trump tweeted to justify his own condemnation of the Russia probe.

In an interview on Newsmax TV’s “Newsmax Now,”the famed attorney and commentator said of Mueller, “I have been opposed since the day he was appointed.”

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Alan Dershowitz To CNN: Im Winning The Battle On Marthas …

Modern-day McCarthyism apparently doesnt stand a chance against Alan Dershowitz, who boasted today on CNN that he is winning the battle on Marthas Vineyard. Dershowitz declared victory on this mornings Smerconish, just 10 days after the socially embattled coastal summerer wrote a column for The Hill in which he bemoaned being shunned by old friends and other warm-weather trippers on the famously liberal (and famously elite) Marthas Vineyard. Watch a clip below. The Harvard law prof emeritus wrote to much internet snarking that the cause of all the cold shoulders was his very public arguments against the impeachment of President Donald Trump. For them, he wrote about his Vineyard neighbors on June 27, it is enough that what I have said about the Constitution might help Trump. So they are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life on Marthas Vineyard. The part that drew the loudest howls: I never thought I would see McCarthyism come to Marthas Vineyard, but I have. Rather than back away from the hyperbolic comparison of his lackluster social life to ruined careers, blacklists and prison, Dershowitz doubled down today when CNNs Michael Smerconish joked during their conversation I think that answer just cost you three more invitations on Marthas Vineyard. Well, thats okay, Dershowitz said with a smile. I dont mind that. Look, Im winning the battle on Marthas Vineyard. The people of Marthas Vineyard are reasonable and decent and they have begun to really condemn the small number of people who have said, Look, because you have spent your life defending everybodys civil liberties were going to stop talking to you. Not bothering to explain the Vineyard-goers sudden outrage over everybodys civil liberties,Dershowitz then reiterated his pro-Hillary political leanings. Look,everybody would have been happier on Marthas Vineyard including me if Hillary Clinton had been elected president. If she were now being impeached or prosecuted or threatened, Id be her strongest champion. I actually wrote a book previously defending President Bill Clintons right not to be impeached. Today Id be a hero of Marthas Vineyard if I were making exactly the same arguments but making them for Hillary Clinton rather than helping Donald Trump Comparing the Vineyarders to politically correct college students, Dershowitz told Smerconish, its all about small-minded intolerance and an unwillingness to talk. He said the adults of Marthas Vineyard, like the college kids, want safe spaces and trigger warnings not to be confronted with a different point of view. Dershowitz, who tells The New York Times today that the reaction to his Trump stance has been much worse than when he defended O.J. Simpson or Claus von Bulow or Leona Helmsley or Michael Milken or Mike Tyson because in those cases people were critical of me, but they were prepared to discuss it, isnt backing off, win, lose or drawing no beachside cocktail invites. Im not going to change my position, Dershowitz told Smerconish. Im going to continue to make my position I make it in my book, The Case Against Impeaching Trump Im going to continue making it in any format that Im asked to make it.

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Alan Dershowitz: Martha’s Vineyard liberal elites shunning …

Alan Dershowitz says he has been shunned first by old political allies who have stopped inviting him to dinners, and now by liberal elites who are trying to exclude him from their social circles on Martha’s Vineyard. The reason, he says, is his unrelenting defense of President Trump’s civil liberties a position that Dershowitz says he would have also taken for Hillary Clinton had she won the presidency and was similarly under investigation amid calls for impeachment. The Harvard law professor and attorney who defended O.J. Simpson says that he is a lifelong liberal but a hard-liner on civil liberties and that he’s not about to flip his views just because of attempts to ostracize him. These childish efforts to shun me because I refused to change my position on civil liberties that I have kept for half a century discourages vibrant debate and may dissuade other civil libertarians from applying their neutral principles to a president of whom they disapprove, Dershowitz wrote in a recent column for the Hill. But one good thing is that being shunned by some ‘old friends’ on Martha’s Vineyard has taught me who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were. Dershowitz has been criticized by some legal scholars for making the case that Trump cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice simply by exercising one of the powers of his office to fire James B. Comey as FBI director even if Trump’s motive may have been to shut down an investigation. In a column for the Washington Examiner last summer, Dershowitz wrote that Trump had the power to order Comey to end the investigation into Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser. The president can, as a matter of constitutional law, direct the attorney general, and his subordinate, the director of the FBI, tell them what to do, whom to prosecute and whom not to prosecute, Dershowitz wrote. Indeed, the president has the constitutional authority to stop the investigation of any person by simply pardoning that person. [Alan Dershowitzs new reality: Tweeted by Trump, shunned by liberal friends] Dershowitz also has been critical of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether actions by Trump and his subordinates constitute efforts to obstruct that investigation. Appearing on Fox & Friends in December, Dershowitz said Mueller had been sloppy in conducting the investigation and raised questions about whether the probe was biased against Trump. On Hannity in April, Dershowitz said Mueller appeared to be laundering information to another prosecutorial authority. Dershowitz was referring to theongoing investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York on Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, which was referred to the agency by Mueller. Dershowitz has earned praise in conservative circles, including from talk host Rush Limbaugh and Trump, of course. But Dershowitz, according to the man himself, has become the subject of scorn in other circles, despite having voted for Clinton and twice for Barack Obama. He reminded people that he had contributed money to the Clinton campaign and had opposed appointing a special counsel to investigate her campaign, he wrote for the Hill. But that is not good enough for some of my old friends on Martha’s Vineyard, he wrote. For them, it is enough that what I have said about the Constitution might help Trump. [Jeffrey Toobin to his former professor Alan Dershowitz: Whats happened to you?] In a heated exchange on Anderson Cooper’s CNN program in March, one of Dershowitz’s former students accused the legal professor of carrying water for Donald Trump. Alan, I don’t know what’s going on with you, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told his longtime friend and mentor. I’m not carrying his water; I’m saying the exact same thing I’ve said for 50 years, Dershowitz responded. And, Jeffrey, you ought to know that. You were my student. The fact that it applies to Trump now rather than applying to Bill Clinton is why people like you have turned against me. Dershowitz likened his alleged shunning on Martha’s Vineyard and elsewhere to McCarthyism in the 1950s, when lawyers who represented suspected Communists were ostracized. I wonder if the professor who refuses to listen to anything I have to say also treats his students similarly, Dershowitz wrote. Would he listen to a student who actively supported Trump? What about one who simply supported his civil liberties? Silence is not my style. Cowardice is not my philosophy, he added. I tend to speak up when I disagree with Republicans, and I intend to speak up when I disagree with Democrats. Specifically, he called out Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who recently urgedpeople to harass Trump administration officials in public. She like those who shun me on Martha’s Vineyard is part of the problem rather than the solution, Dershowitz wrote. Dershowitz’s column unleashed a fresh round of counterattacks and mockery on Twitter. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a vocal critic of Trump, said: You seem bothered your friends in Martha’s Vineyard no longer invite you to nice dinners. I note the @POTUS you defend has ripped away babies & kids from parents. Lol, poor Alan Dershowitz is getting the side eye at Chilmark General Store, Eric Boehlert, writer for the liberal Shareblue Media, said referring to a grocery store on Martha’s Vineyard. Responding to his critics, Dershowitz said Tuesday that he is reveling not whining. I’m proud of taking an unpopular, principled position that gets me shunned by partisan zealots. It’s not about me. I couldn’t care less about being shunned by such people, he tweeted. It’s about their unwillingness to engage in dialogue. Unwillingness to hear views with which one disagrees, he said, is a dangerous sign of the times. Fred Barbash and Derek Hawkins contributed to this article. Read more: A bold new legal defense for Trump: Presidents cannot obstruct justice Be careful what you wish for Max!: Trump takes aim at Waters after she calls for public harassment of his Cabinet The owner of the Red Hen explains why she asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave

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Dershowitz unloads on NY socialist Dem, Martha’s Vineyard …

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday he wont let radicals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders steal the spirit of the Democratic Party and doubled-down on his attack on fellow liberals who shunned him at Martha’s Vineyard. I wont let the Democrats steal my party from me. I want to regain the center, Dershowitz toldWABC RadiosCurtis and Cosby show, noting that he will remain a Democrat as as long as theres some chance the Democratic Party can return to normalcy. I want to make sure that the radical Left, the woman who got elected in the Bronx and Queens to Congress on the Democratic ticket, that they and Sanders and others dont represent the Democratic Party, he continued, referring to socialist Ocasio-Cortez who pulled off a shock victory last week against incumbent Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley. I want a fight within the Democratic Party to restore it to the days when it was a great centrist party, when it united people rather than divided people, he added. “I want a fight within the Democratic Party to restore it to the days when it was a great centrist party, when it united people rather than divided people.” ALAN DERSHOWITZ SLAMS MARTHAS VINEYARD LIBERALS FOR SHUNNING HIM OVER TRUMP DEFENSE Dershowitz, a frequent guest on Fox News, also weighed in on the controversy surrounding his recent claims that he was ostracized at Marthas Vineyard by his fellow liberals over his defense of constitutional rights of President Donald Trump. The idea that some of these people arent talking to me is not a punishment, its a great reward. I am so pleased, he said during the interview. Its a red badge of courage for me that there are some people who prefer to shut down debate and not talk to me. These are people who have asked me for help over the years, who have asked me for support when their kid gets busted on a marijuana charge, or on possession of alcohol, Im the first one they call, he added. But as soon as I defend the rights of Donald Trump or anybody else they disagree with, Im am a pariah. These are people who have asked me for help over the years, who have asked me for support when their kid gets busted on a marijuana charge, or on possession of alcohol, Im the first one they call.” Dershowitz wrote inThe Hillthat he is a liberal Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and contributed handsomely to her campaign. But he said his principled defense of civil liberties that could benefit Trump was too much to swallow for his social circle. So they are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life on Marthas Vineyard, he wrote. Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter@LukasMikelionis.

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Alan Dershowitz says hes been shunned on Marthas …

Alan Dershowitz has defended accused murderers O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow in court, but it appears his defense of President Donald Trump has crossed a line for some of his friends. The famed trial lawyer and Harvard professor lamented his plight in an op-ed published last week by The Hill, saying hes been shunned for his defense of Trumps civil liberties. Dershowitz said hes not a Trump supporter and he voted for Hillary Clinton, but he feels people unfairly brand him a fan of Trump because he has publicly opposed special counsel Robert Muellers investigation of the Trump campaign, on legal grounds. But that is not good enough for some of my old friends on Marthas Vineyard, he wrote. One of them, an academic at a distinguished university, has told people that he would not attend any dinner or party to which I was invited. Either you are for Trump or against him, and that is all some people need to know to make judgments about you, he said. Dershowitz went so far as to compare his social snubs to 1950s-era McCarthyism, when many innocent people were unfairly blacklisted and fired from their jobs after being accused of being communists. His complaints didnt garner much sympathy on social media. Dershowitz said hes learned one big lesson: One good thing is that being shunned by some old friends on Marthas Vineyard has taught me who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were.

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July 5, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

Alan Dershowitz laments being shunned on Marthas …

One downside to publicly defending President Trump? The liberal elite on Marthas Vineyard wont like you anymore. At least, thats what renowned Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz is lamenting. In an op-ed piece for The Hill published last week, Dershowitz said his friends on Marthas Vineyard are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life because he has defended Trumps civil liberties. Handout Alan Dershowitz (right) with Larry Ruttman at a Martha’s Vineyard Sharks game in 2014. Dershowitz reportedly moved to the Vineyard after retiring from his Harvard Law professor job in 2014. He even offered pal John Kerry advice on how to fit in on Marthas Vineyard when Kerry swapped his Nantucket home for one in Chilmark. Get The Weekender in your inbox: The Globe’s top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond. But Kerry might want to rethink taking any advice on how to be popular on the island after reading Dershowitzs recent piece. The renowned defense attorney wrote that even though hes politically liberal and voted for Hillary Clinton, that is not good enough for some of my old friends on Marthas Vineyard. One of those friends, described by Dershowitz as an academic at a distinguished university, has told people that he would not attend any dinner or party to which I was invited. Other friends have demanded trigger warnings so that they can be assured of having safe spaces in which they will not encounter me or my ideas, Dershowitz said. But ever the optimist, Dershowitz said the whole ordeal has a silver lining: It has taught him who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were. From a personal point of view, I could not care less about being shunned by people whose views regarding dialogue I do not respect, he wrote. I will not change my views as a result of these attempts to ostracize me, but there are some who may remain silent for fear of being shunned. Silence is not my style. Cowardice is not my philosophy. The anecdote supported an argument Dershowitz was making about Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who had called on supporters to harass Trump and members of his administration. Right now I am speaking up in disagreement with Maxine Waters, Dershowitz wrote in the op-ed. She like those who shun me on Marthas Vineyard is part of the problem rather than the solution. Dershowitz has recently surprised many by becoming an outspoken supporter of Trumps legal positions, arguing that a special counsel shouldnt have been appointed and claiming theres no evidence that the president has obstructed justice. He has even become known as a sort of Trump whisperer, gaining the presidents ear after making his opinion on the special counsel case known on national TV news networks.

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July 3, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

Alan Dershowitz, A Schmuck – Wonkette

There are perks to being the only Harvard professor willing to shill for the Bush League Mussolini. Everyone else has to haul ass to the Fox studio and sit for hair and makeup. Not Alan Dershowitz! He just parks his laptop in Pee Wee’s playhouse and Skypes in that rant. Is he even wearing pants? We hope never to find out! More to the point, what the hell is he even saying here? O RLY? Alan Dershowitz is joining the fight against pre-trial detention? Did the bronzed braintrust know they were inviting a Social Justice Warrior to join them on the leather couch? No wonder they made him call in from a fish bowl! Yes, it is to America’s everlasting shame that we have over half a million people locked up without any determination of guilt. Graphic via Prison Policy Initiative We set bail without regard for a defendant’s ability to pay, and we spend hundreds of millions of dollars jailing people who pose no danger at all to their communities. And if you live in Maryland Districts 11 or 23B, your chance to get rid of Delegates Bobby Zirkin and Joseph Vallario — the second- and third-highest recipients of bail bondsmen’s campaign contributions in the entire country — is coming on June 26. Why does little Maryland receive almost as much in bail bond campaign cash as California or Florida? DUNNO! We should get Dersh on that ASAP! But we digress! Because Alan Dershowitz is only invoking those unjustly incarcerated brown dudes to pretend that poor Paul Manafort has been thrown in jail based solely on the indictment. And Alan Dershowitz knows that’s total horseshit. Last week, Paul Manafort was a free man — albeit one who had turned millions of dollars in assets over to the federal courts and was sporting a set of matching ankle bracelets. Do poor brown dudes get to spend the night in their own beds when they are indicted for all the crimes? NO, THEY DO NOT. So it is stunning chutzpah for Dershowitz to pretend that poor Paul Manafort was railroaded by an unjust legal system. The guy had every advantage of race and class. All he had to do was quit criming for a hot second. And he couldn’t even do that! Paul Manafort is in jail because he was a goddamn idiot who allegedly sent WhatsApp messages coaching witnesses in his own trial, and saved the messages to his own iCloud. That’s “bless our hearts and other parts”-level stupid. And we expect this illiterate dipshit to pretend that Manafort was “sentenced.” But not a guy who taught at Harvard Law School for fifty years! Judge Berman Jackson had “probable cause to believe that [Manafort] has committed a Federal, State, or local crime while on release” — i.e. obstruction of justice and false statements to the FBI — and that’s why he’s going to jail. Which Alan Dershowitz knows goddamn well. So he needs to close up his laptop and knock off that live webcam porn show he puts on in his attic for the drooling morons at Fox. Seriously, Zaydie! This is a shandah, and it’s fucking beneath you! Follow your FDF on Twitter! You liking these lawsplainers? Please click here to fund ’em!

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June 21, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

What Happened to Alan Dershowitz? – POLITICO Magazine

NEW YORK If you wanted to feel the full force of the intellectual whirlpool that is American politics in 2018, the place to go on April 2 was the Village Underground, a nightclub beneath West 3rd Street, where Alan Dershowitz, the longtime Harvard Law professor and civil liberties lion, was debating the future of American democracy on the side of President Donald Trump. Opposing him were a National Review writer and a former FBI agent, arguing that the special investigation into ties between Russia and Trumps presidential campaign is well within the bounds of American law. Dershowitz, along with a conservative columnist for the Washington Examiner, was making the case that the Mueller investigation is dangerous to our entire system. In the room, which is normally a comedy club, it was impossible to shake the feeling that something was off. Two years ago, it wouldve seemed far more natural for the quartet to swap partners and switch sides. Story Continued Below On our way out, my wife and I were handed free copies of Dershowitzs newest book, Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy, in which Dershowitz writes that special prosecutor Robert Mueller is subjecting Trump to the legal equivalent of a colonoscopy. The woman behind us in line took her free book, turned to her husband and asked, What happened to Alan Dershowitz? In certain circlesthe legal academy, defense attorneys, Marthas Vineyardit is the question. Dershowitz, an iconic civil libertarian and criminal defense lawyer, who circulates between the liberal redoubts of Miami, New York and the Vineyard, has emerged in the past year as the most distinguished legal defender of Trump. Hes met Trump at Mar-a-Lago, and he dined with him at the White House the day after the FBI raid on Michael Cohens office. Hes a regular presence on TV, especially Fox News, where hes a reliable voice on the presidents side against the investigation. In April, following the Cohen raid, Dershowitz appeared on Hannity nine timesincluding three days in a row. His message is clear: Muellers investigation is a witch hunt, and although he doesnt think Trump should fire Mueller, the president would be within his rights to do it. People everywhere ask what happened to him, said Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge and lecturer at Harvard Law School who has known Dershowitz for years. I get that from everyone who knows I know him. Anyone under 30 could be forgiven for seeing Dershowitz as just another talking head on Trump TV, but to Gertner and her peers, thats not even remotely who Dershowitz is. Gen Xers may know him as a celebrity lawyer, a member of O.J. Simpsons defense team. Baby boomers know him for clearing the socialite Claus von Bulow of poisoning his wife in the 1980s. But Dershowitz had a 20-year career before that, during which he established himself as one of the most prominent and consistent defenders of civil liberties in America. In 1963, as a law clerk, he drafted a crucial memo for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg that led to the death penalty being ruled unconstitutional. (The ruling was later reversed.) At Harvard, he sued the universitys all-male social clubs, and though he didnt prevail, he was ahead of his time: Harvard recently severed its ties with the clubs. His legal scholarship articulates an expansive view of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and even animal rights. Over this storied career, Dershowitzs public persona has remained more or less unchanged: loud, provocative, brilliant and principled, if also relentlessly self-promoting. And, until recently, his positions have been tolerated, if not always embraced, by the legal academy and universally acknowledged for their moral seriousness. About a year ago, after Muellers appointment on May 17, that started to change. Around then, Dershowitznever one to overlook a celebrity being railroadedstarted getting more TV airtime for his argument that a sitting president could not be guilty of obstruction of justice. The liberal intelligentsia recoiled. Dershowitz speaks openly of having been shunned by friends and condemned by relatives since theneven, he told me, at his familys recent Passover Seder, where his grandson and nephew urged him to dial down his public defense of the president. Hes been harshly critiqued by former Harvard colleagues and within the small, tightly entwined community of civil libertarians. In late March, when legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin confronted him directly on Anderson Cooper 360I dont know whats going on with you this is not who you used to beit felt like a moment of collective catharsis for liberals who see Trump as a threat to democracy. Alan Dershowitz during a 2010 interview in Jerusalem. | Getty Images But is Dershowitz really a turncoat? I spent two months interviewing leading civil libertarians and Dershowitzs former colleagues, reading through his lifes work, and interviewing him twice. In one view, Dershowitz, at the end of his career, has finally crossed the line, defending a demagogue who rejects and threatens the very principles of liberty and fairness to which Dershowitz has dedicated his life. In another view, the people whove lost their way are the liberals and civil libertarians, blinded by their rage for Trump, who have dropped their principles in a moment of political threat and are taking out their anger on a man who has been their staunchest ally. Maybe the question isnt what happened to Alan Dershowitz. Maybe its what happened to everyone else. *** When Alan Dershowitz arrived at Yale Law School in the fall of 1959, there was no road map on how to be an American civil liberties lawyer, let alone an Alan Dershowitz. Even now its difficult to name anyone comparable. There have been other prominent lawyers who have represented controversial political causes and unpopular defendantsClarence Darrow, William Kuntsler and Ramsey Clark are obvious candidatesbut none carried on their careers with the publicness with which Dershowitz has conducted his life. There isnt another lawyer like Dershowitz, civil rights attorney Ron Kuby told me. Alan is sui generis and he knows it. At his Sutton Place apartment, overlooking the East River, Dershowitz explained to me that he had no role model. I have no lawyer heroes, he said. Every lawyer I know has been deeply flawed in one way or another. The closest comparison he could come up with was to Edward Bennett Williams, the Washington trial attorney who defended Jimmy Hoffa and Mafia boss Frank Costelloexcept that Ed Bennett Williams is to the Catholic Church as Judaism is to me. Maybe the question isnt what happened to Alan Dershowitz. Maybe its what happened to everyone else. The decision to pursue his path in the law was organic. I never decided to be a civil libertarian, Dershowitz said. I was born a civil libertarian. I was brought up a civil libertarian. At 14, against the wishes of his parents, Dershowitz signed a communist-inspired petition opposing the death penalty for Ethel and Julius Rosenberg as a matter of principle, even though he personally detested communism. But he hadnt heard the term libertarian until he took an ethics course at Brooklyn College with John Hospers, later the 1972 presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, and even then Hospers libertarianism had an economic emphasis on free markets that didnt resonate with Dershowitzs left-leaning social politics. Today, the idea of civil libertarianism still doesnt quite have a defined spot on the intellectual and political map. The right to bear arms, the school-choice movement, desegregation, abortion rights and fetal rightsa set of issues wildly incompatible in the rest of public lifehave all been defended under the mantle of civil liberties. Dershowitzs conception of pure civil libertarianism resembles the original positionthe thought experiment developed by the philosopher John Rawls, with whom Dershowitz was in a reading group at Harvard. Rawls, widely regarded as the most important political philosopher of the 20th century, suggested people should think about ethics as if they were operating behind a veil of ignoranceas if they were building a society without knowing what their race, gender and social standing would be, and were trying to develop rules that would work to everyones benefit. Its an attempt to think about justice purely from the standpoint of fairness. In the contemporary context, the challenge might be to consider what you would think about, say, the Electoral College without knowing whether it would work to the benefit of your party or the opposition. Rawls is ordinarily classified as a liberal philosopher, since justice as fairness requires equal rights, equal opportunity and, generally speaking, fair treatment of the powerless. But some of the neutral principles that would likely emerge from that approachsay, every person should be entitled to the presumption of innocence and a vigorous legal defensebenefit not only the powerless but also the rich and powerful, like, say, Donald Trump. I call it the shoe-on-the-other-foot test, Dershowitz told me. Several days after our first talk, the FBI raided Michael Cohens offices, and he appeared on Fox News to say much the same thing. You know, if this were the shoe on the other foot, Dershowitz told Hannity, if this were Hillary Clinton being investigated and they went into her lawyers officethe ACLU would be on every television station in America jumping up and down. Some of Alan Dershowitzs most prominent clients (clockwise, from upper left): New York hotel queen Leona Helmsley, who was defended by Dershowitz during her 1990 battle against charges of tax fraud; O.J. Simpson, shown here talking with Dershowitz and attorney F. Lee Bailey during Simpsons 1995 trial for the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman; televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, at a 1991 resentencing hearing for her husband, Rev. Jim Bakker, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison for a combination of fraud and conspiracy charges; Danish socialite Claus von Bulow, who, in 1985, was acquitted on two counts of attempting to murder his wife, Martha Sunny von Bulow. | AP; Getty Images Dershowitzs supporters see his position on Trump as consistent with the rest of his career. If you look objectively at what hes doing, hes applying neutral civil liberties principles to Trump, as he would to anyone else, said Harvey Silverglate, a civil rights lawyer in Boston and a longtime friend of Dershowitzs. Harvard professor Jack Goldsmith told me, similarly, Alan has obviously throughout his entire career been a principled defender of civil liberties, especially for those under criminal investigation. His commentary in the last year is entirely consistent with that lifelong commitment. In this telling, Dershowitz is a still point in a turning world, a zealot for neutral civil liberties so dedicated to his principles that hes willing to defend even people whose politics could undermine or destroy them. To Dershowitzs detractors, this is precisely the problem. They say Dershowitz has failed to recognize that were in a new moment, when for the first time in our lives a president is flirting with authoritarianism in a way that, if unchecked, could bring down the very system that Dershowitz has spent his life defending. *** Dershowitz is careful to say, over and over, that hes not Trumps lawyer. Hes not providing legal advice to the president, and hes had no conversations under the cloak of attorney-client privilege. But his public statements, argued everywhere from Fox News to the Village Underground, amount to a case with a clear legal shape, the kind of thing a lawyer might argue, if it ever came to court. The first pillar of the argument is intellectual: special prosecutors like Mueller are a really bad idea. They have enormous power, and to justify their existence theyre prone to dive down rabbit holes, often barely connected to the original charge. (Bill Clintons impeachment in December 1998, for perjury regarding his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, stemmed from an investigation into a real estate deal begun by special prosecutor Robert Fiske in January 1994almost five years earlier.) Moreover, special prosecutors simply arent as good at getting an answer to a factual question as a select congressional committee or an independent commission, which is how Dershowitz says Russian election interference should have been investigated. He has been sounding this note for years. The subjects of such investigations are often hounded and bankrupted. The independent counsel have no accountability or continuity, he wrote in his 1998 book Sexual McCarthyism: Clinton, Starr and the Emerging Constitutional Crisis. And he has company. Special prosecutors are like dinosaurs roaming the Earth in search of prey, said NYU professor Burt Neuborne, former national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. The sad reality appears to be that most people care about perjury only when they disapprove of the substance of the lie or of the person who is lying, Dershowitz said in Dec. 1998 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in regards to the looming impeachment of President Bill Clinton. | Getty Images Every lawyer I spoke with for this story acknowledged the consistency and validity of Dershowitzs concern with special counsel overreach. This is a classic civil liberties position, Gertner said. In the case of Trump, some questioned whether Dershowitz has made clear that this is an institutional argument as opposed to a personal attack on Mueller. Any person who has listened to Alan on a regular basis would not think he only had a problem with the appointment of Mueller, Toobin told me. Indeed, Dershowitz has critiqued several of Muellers tactics specifically. Last August, he challenged Muellers decision to empanel a second grand jury in the District of Columbia as a tactic to gain a more favorable jury pool in potential criminal trials; more recently, hes raised questions about Muellers conduct as a U.S. attorney in Boston when four innocent people went to prison to protect an FBI informant named Whitey Bulger, and he has been harshly critical of the Cohen raid. It wasnt Mueller who sought the warrant, but its the sort of rabbit-hole consequence that Dershowitz has been railing about. The Cohen warrant has widened an already-existing rift in the civil liberties world. In normal times, the FBI raid is the kind of aggressive prosecutorial move that would drive civil libertarians crazy: it puts privileged communications at risk of being exposed. I see no adequate moral reason for invading one of the most sacred relationships in our constitutional democracy, Silverglate said. This seems like it should be a bread-and-butter type issue for the ACLU, but the organization has been nearly silent on the Cohen warrant. In an op-ed in The Hill, Dershowitz accused the organization of having abandoned its role as a neutral defender of civil liberties. He wrote, For the ACLU, he wrote, getting Trump, trumps civil liberties. This point is central to Dershowitz, who sees the ACLU as having turned away from traditional liberal values toward a progressive politics. The ACLU declined my requests for an interview for this story; its national legal director, David Cole, emailed only to say, I think Alan Dershowitz is wildly overreacting and to refer me to a blog post on the ACLU website in which he writes: The ACLU is the nations premier defender of privacy. But we also believe in the rule of law as an essential foundation for civil liberties and civil rights. And perhaps the first principle of the rule of law is that no onenot even the president, let alone his lawyeris above the law. Dershowitzs argument isnt crazy. Whats unclear is why hes making it at all. Other civil libertarians acknowledged the legitimacy of Dershowitzs concern, but said it lacked important context. No-knock warrants are not unusual. Raiding a lawyers office happens rarely but regularly. None of this is new, said civil rights attorney Ronald Kuby. It doesnt make it right. But it also doesnt make Donald J. Trump the victim of a rapacious criminal justice system. The second pillar of Dershowitzs argument is more technical, and more controversial: A president cannot be found guilty for exercising his constitutional authority, he argues, and his constitutional authority includes the right to fire anyone in the executive branch, even if that person is investigating him. In his view, President Richard Nixon did not obstruct justice by ordering the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Rather, Dershowitz says, Nixon obstructed justice by telling subordinates to lie to the FBI, by paying hush money to potential witnesses against him, and by destroying evidence. By this logic, Trump could fire Mueller or Rod Rosenstein for any reason without criminally obstructing justice. Whether Dershowitz is right involves a complex legal argument that cant objectively be resolved. Those who disagree with him, including University of Chicago Law School professors Daniel Hemel and Eric Posner, argue that a president obstructs justice when he interferes with an investigation for a corrupt motivewhich, presumably, would include firing an investigator who might uncover something bad about him. Generally speaking, assessing motive is a dodgy business in the lawand Gertner hastens to point out that firing Comey isnt the only basis for obstruction charges that could be levied against Trumpbut Dershowitzs argument isnt crazy. Whats unclear is why hes making it at all. Almost no legal experts think Trump will face criminal obstruction charges. A sitting president has never been indicted, and a pair of Justice Department legal opinions, from 1973 and 2000, hold that a sitting president cannot be tried or indicted. Former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger recently argued that theres more wiggle room regarding indictment, and of course the opinions could be revisited, but criminal charges against Trump seem highly unlikely. So what is the argument about? When TV pundits talk about obstruction of justice, theyre not really talking about the statutorily defined crime. Theyre using it as a kind of shorthand for attempting to rise above the lawthe kind of thing that might trigger Congress to launch an impeachment proceeding. Arguing that Trump couldnt be impeached for corrupt actionsas Dershowitz says is also true under certain fact scenariosis a fundamentally different matter. This isnt a civil libertarian position, Gertner said. Its an authoritarian position. If anything, it purports to talk about constitutional power. It isnt Alans usual bailiwick and in my opinion it is false. If Alan is right, Neuborne concluded, then the president is above the law and we have a very different system than we think we have. In the West Village, Dershowitz went even further down that path, and argued that the statutory definition of obstruction of justice would still be relevant in an impeachment trial, over which the chief justice would preside. Dershowitz argued that the presence of the chief justice at an impeachment trial, and the inclusion of criteria for impeachment in the Constitution, proves that the process is not purely political and that legal standards should still be relevant. In such a proceeding, Dershowitz said the first thing hed do is to file a motion to dismissin other words, a motion that the alleged conduct did not meet the minimal legal threshold. Its the weakest part of Dershowitzs argument. It is inconceivable to me that Chief Justice [John] Roberts would accept an argument that the president is above the lawmore immune than King George was, Neuborne told me from Stanford, where he is teaching this semester. In the real world, the argument wouldnt last five minutes. Silverglate said, What Trump has done isnt appropriate for criminal charges, but much of what he has done would be grounds for impeachment. Silverglate rejected the notion that somehow the Supreme Court would swoop in and dismiss impeachment charges on legal grounds. I dont see how a decision to impeach would be subject to judicial review, he said. If Alan is right, Neuborne concluded, then the president is above the law and we have a very different system than we think we have. *** Most of these scenarios are solely fodder for late-night talk shows. Almost all experts agree its extremely improbable that Trump will be criminally charged, and that if he is impeached, its unlikely to be just for this small set of clearly noncriminal acts. If all this is true, what is Dershowitz trying to accomplish? The most impassioned criticisms of Dershowitz concern tone and audiencea polite way of saying that Dershowitz shouldnt air his concerns on Fox News. One can detect in this critique some measure of resentment and jealousy. Dershowitz is a terrific TV guest. Its also clearly true that Dershowitz is drawn to celebrity and attention. His clients and advisees have included Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Yo-Yo Ma, Sheldon Adelson, Natalie Portman, Mark Rich, Saul Bellow, David Mamet and, as of last week, Harvey Weinstein, who he is aiding in an effort to recover personal emails from his former company. Dershowitz has recounted many times that when he had dinner at Mar-a-Lago in March 2017, he was visited at his table by Trump himself, who started schmoozing and courting his vote for 2020. One has the image of iridescent moths drawn to each others glow. At the age of 79, a time when many of his counterparts have long since dialed back their public presence, the Trump story has given Dershowitz a vehicle back into the thick of it. When I asked Dershowitz in early April why he appeared so often on Fox News, he said he was furious with CNN for not booking him more often and had asked the network whether hed been blacklisted. Dershowitz is on CNN more often now, he says, but his beef with the network seems to presume that he needs to offer his views on TV, and that if Fox News is the outlet that wants to put him on, then so be it. Toobin, whos been sparring with Dershowitz more regularly on CNN, asks, Is Alan Dershowitz so important that he has to be on all the time? Dershowitz at a Feb. 2016 event for Hulus Triumph the Insult Comic Dogs Election Special. | Getty Images The problem, as many see it, is that in going on Fox Newsa network whose hosts tend to operate as attack dogs for Trump and a kind of security blanket for his supportersDershowitz is retailing an argument in a place where it has an entirely different meaning. The shoe-is on-the-other-foot moral test is the first, basic exercise in critical thinking that America needs to engage in, Kuby said, But thats not a conversation you can have on the Fox News channel. Neuborne agreed. I want to try and separate the intrinsic merits of Alans concerns from the propriety of the venuewhether we should be debating or expressing them on Fox News, he said. Alan knows the difference between a serious intellectual investigation and a political propaganda barrage. Dershowitz also knows, as everyone does, that the president is an avid Fox News watcher, to the point where he personally called into Fox & Friends on a recent morning. I talk to the president on television all the time, he told Isaac Chotiner of Slate. Apparently he listens. In this way, Dershowitz has publicly laid out several legal arguments to Trump, including the idea that it would be unwise to voluntarily speak with Mueller and that Rod Rosenstein should be recused. And Trump isnt the only important audience his views are reaching. Dershowitz himself has said that Trump should not fire Mueller, but no one has done more than he has to give cover to Republicans in Congress who might choose to look the other way were Trump to do so. Watching Dershowitzs recent appearances on Hannity, one has the feeling that hes allowing himself to be used. In the lead-in to one segment, Hannity said of Muellers tactics, This is what we expect in Venezuela. This is not the United States or anything. Its a moment crying out for Dershowitz to point out Hannitys own inconsistenciesthe conversations hes entertained about Lock Her Up, and whether Hillary Clinton should be tried for treason and executed for the unsubstantiated allegations surrounding the Uranium One sale, all of which have the ring of Venezuela. Hannitys response to Muellers first charges was to tweet, When will @HillaryClinton be indicted? But Dershowitz says none of this. Theres no question that everybody uses everybody on television, Dershowitz told me, when I confronted him with the concerns about his Fox appearances. Dershowitz also pointed out that he chastised Hannity for not disclosing his relationship with Cohen, that hes tried to strike a better balance in his appearances, and that his microphone is often cut off during the introductions to his segments. But Dershowitz said he thought the appearances important. I think of myself as a public educator, he said, adding, I always prefer to speak with audiences that disagree with me. He says that he gets a positive response from Hannitys audience and that many thank him for educating them about civil libertarian concerns. Im sort of half-sympathetic for Alan pointing out that the left has been inconsistent, but thats only one side of the story, Neuborne said. Conservatives are inconsistent, too. On that point, Dershowitz agrees. Almost everyones a hypocrite, he says. As he sees it, the best way to achieve his goaland to get it the attention it deservesis by defending the most odious clients in the most provocative possible way on the very principles liberals claim to love. Talking to him, its not hard to get the impression that exposing that truththe hypocrisy of both sidesmay be his ultimate project. As he sees it, the best way to achieve his goaland to get it the attention it deservesis by defending the most odious clients in the most provocative possible way on the very principles liberals claim to love. One of Dershowitzs favorite quotes is H.L. Menckens observation that the trouble about fighting for human freedom is that you have to spend much of your life defending sons of bitches. Watching Dershowitz do his thing is supremely challenging. It feels in-your-face, almost obnoxious, which is probably part of the point. What makes it especially tough to take is it seems as if Dershowitz thinks he alone is immune from the curse of hypocrisy. But his core point is worth reflecting upon. Keeping ones bearings in the Trump era is hard. So many tectonic plates have shifted that its often impossible even for experts to figure out how they ended up standing where they are. Have civil libertarians ever defended FISA courts and no-knock warrants? Its one thing for the ACLU not to take the lead questioning federal agents barging into the office of the presidents former lawyer, and quite another to issue a statement praising the rule of law. Would liberals really feel the way they do if the shoe were on the other foot? I do believe there will be a reckoning, Gertner told me. And people who enabled this corruption will have to be held to account. The question is, when the judgment of history is rendered, who will be deemed corruptRepublicans for turning a blind eye to blatant election interference, Democrats for politicizing apolitical institutions like the ACLU, or civil libertarians for wavering in their commitment to foundational principles? Likely theres blame enough to go around. But its surely unfair to brand Dershowitz a racist, as Rep. Maxine Waters did in the aftermath of the D.C. grand jury controversy, or a Trump apologist, as have Slates Dahlia Lithwick and Salons Jefferson Morley, among others. Dershowitz proudly voted for Clinton, he opposed the Trump travel ban as a matter of policy and he called allegations that Trump had shared classified information with Russias foreign minister about ISISs plans to use laptops as airplane bombs the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president. When I asked him, he flatly told me collusion should be a crime and that it should be illegal to fire a special prosecutor. At one point during the Village Underground debate, Dershowitz threw up his hands and exclaimed, Whos defending anything Trump did? Calling him names feels reductionist, convenientas if wed rather lounge in the comfort of our own echo chambers than deal with the vexing and even annoying challenges that hes made a career of raising. Alan Dershowitz is one of the good guys, Kuby says bluntly. What does it say about us if we cast him out? *** Ones bottom line on this ultimate question almost certainly turns on ones perception of the gravity of the current threat to democracy. Perhaps Alan Dershowitz has a greater capacity than the rest of us to separate the transient anxieties of this moment from the bigger risks, and perhaps history will look back upon the Trump presidency as the sort of challenge that demonstrates the resilience of a liberal democracya seminal ethical moment like the Skokie marches or the Nuremberg trials, in which society protects procedural rights as it simultaneously expresses profound disagreement with those whose rights are being protected. Or perhaps the democratic project is under existential threatand history, if it survives as an independent academic enterprise, will look back pityingly upon civil libertarians who coddled power with their concerns about prosecutorial overreach while a fundamentally corrupt president undermined the great American project. For his part, Dershowitz is optimistic. I think the fear is not substantial, he said of the threat to democracy. The media is very strong. Were seeing some Republicans draw red lines. Were seeing the academy stand up to him. If anything, Silverglate sees our treatment of Trump as the threat, and thinks Dershowitz does too. I have no doubt Alan feels danger to this society if Trump is run roughshod over, he said. Others take a darker view, as a raft of seriously argued recent books about Trump and democracy attest. In How Democracies Die, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt identify four warning signs that a leader puts democracy at risk: a weak commitment to democratic rules, denial of the legitimacy of opponents, toleration of violence, and a willingness to curb civil liberties or the media. With the exception of Richard Nixon, they write, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century. On the other hand, Donald Trump met them all. In this framework, empowering Trumpeven as a matter of dispassionate intellectual principlebrings us one step closer to a regime that erases the very values that Dershowitz says hes defending. I fear Dershowitz has allowed his celebrity to stand as an apology for a great danger to the civil liberties he claims to cherish, said Northeastern Law School professor Michael Meltsner, former first assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Alan is fiddling while Washington burns. Kuby said grand concerns with democracy are part of the reason he recently left talk radio. Someday my grandchildren will ask, Grandpa, what did you do in those extraordinary times. I didnt want my answer to be, I entertained many of his supporters on radio while I made a lot of money. Neuborne said, I think were in about as risky a place as weve been in my lifetime. Dershowitz, he says, has convinced himself that only he can be the arbiter of principle, which is a dangerous psychological place to be. Ive been there myself. But Neuborne takes heart in the upsurge of interest in the democratic process. I think the country is going to heal itself, and thats why Im so sad about Alan. He could be part of the healing process instead of making the festering wound even worse. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the date and address of the Village Underground debate on the future of democracy. Evan Mandery is the author of A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America, and is a professor at the City University of New York.

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June 15, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

Alan Dershowitz: Appointing Mueller ‘Serious Mistake’ All …

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz on Wednesday defended his criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller an argument President Donald Trump tweeted to justify his own condemnation of the Russia probe. In an interview on Newsmax TV’s “Newsmax Now,”the famed attorney and commentator said of Mueller, “I have been opposed since the day he was appointed.” Read This Newsmax Platinum Article! Get special, easy access to Newsmax Platinum reports: Become a Newsmax Platinum Member today!

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May 6, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed

Alan Dershowitz | The Jerusalem Post

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May 3, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Alan Dershowitz  Comments Closed


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