In April we reported that Alan Dershowitz believes the president is above the law. On Tuesday night the former Harvard law professor went on CNN to give another ridiculous opinion, saying that he believes it is legal for the president to obstruct justice.
Dershowitz has been one of President Trump’s strongest supporters in recent months, appearing numerous times on television to advance his pet legal theories that almost nobody else agrees with. Tuesday night he was on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” along with Norm Eisen, who chairs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a group that has been trying to force Trump to follow the law and ethical guidelines for the U.S. presidency.
Our April article contained the following important paragraph describing the unusual, and alarming, legal opinion of Dershowitz on Trump’s powers:
“Then there’s Alan Dershowitz’s defense of firing DOJ officials, including special counsel Mueller – based on the unitary executive doctrine. In essence, that doctrine argues the president is above the law – a curious position for Dershowitz to take given his long history as an advocate for civil rights. The two concepts are mutually exclusive, since the premise of civil rights is the right of any person to hold the government and officials within it accountable for wrongs done to that person. If the government is above the law, it cannot do wrong.”
The discussion on CNN last night followed a new report from the New York Times which found that Trump demanded that Attorney General Jeff Sessions unrecuse himself from the Russia investigation back in March 2017. Trump is reported to have told Sessions that he should continue to oversee the Russian investigation into potential collusion with the Trump campaign, even though Sessions had recused himself on the advice of Justice Department lawyers.
Noted Republican strategist Rick Wilson, a Trump critic, had this to say about the new report: “If you don’t think this is obstruction of justice, I can’t help you.”
If you don't think this is obstruction of justice, I can't help you.
"Trump Asked Sessions to Retain Control of Russia Inquiry After His Recusal" pic.twitter.com/ZKJ7fPTO4l
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) May 30, 2018
This is the majority view. Of course. The Times said this new information could factor in to a charges of obstruction of justice against the president by Mueller.
On CNN, however, Dershowitz discussed another issue: whether or not Sessions should have told the president before being appointed attorney general that he intended to recuse himself from the investigation. Missing from this crazy argument, of course, is the fact that before becoming Attorney General Sessions had no idea that he would recuse himself from the Mueller probe.
On the show Dershowitz argued that Trump had the right to select anyone he wanted to oversee the Russia investigation, even if that person was selected for the purpose of protecting the president from harm that would come out of an investigation. He also said that other attorneys general have been selected based on the president’s needs and that Sessions should have given Trump a choice in the matter.
It has become clear that Alan Dershowitz, once a highly respected constitutional lawyer, is now spouting nonsensical legal theories with the intent to provide a legal basis for Donald Trump’s unconstitutional and illegal actions. If we lose our democracy because of a president who holds himself above the law and who obstructs investigations into his own illegal behavior, then we will have people like Alan Dershowitz to thank.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.