Dershowitz: Menendez Indictment Could Be Punishment For Foreign Policy Opposition
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz is suggesting that the administration may have indicted Sen. Robert Menendez for corruption as punishment for “policy differences.”
The Department of Justice indicted the New Jersey Democrat Menendez earlier this month for engaging in corruption and bribery, complete with bawdy details about foreign “girlfriends.” Menendez has been accused of accepting close to $1 million in gifts and campaign donation from Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor and close friend, in exchange for his political muscle — purportedly used to help Melgen’s businesses deal with the feds and to get three of Melgen’s foreign model girlfriends U.S. visas. (RELATED: Here Are The Salacious Details Of Robert Menendez’s Indictment)
Now Dershowitz, a prominent lawyer and professor who’s been a longtime supporter of the Obama administration, is arguing in a post at policy forum the Gatestone Institute that the evidence for Menendez’s indictment is thin, and could be a politically-motivated move by the Obama administration.
“Is the prosecution part of a growing and dangerous trend toward criminalizing policy differences?” Dershowitz wondered in a blog post Friday. “Senator Menendez has challenged the Administration’s policy toward Cuba, expressed concerns over a nuclear deal being brokered with Iran, questioned why an agency would condone throwing good medicine in the garbage, and asked whether a foreign government or the private sector is better at port security. Senators should not have to fear that the Executive Branch will unleash prosecutors to go after politicians who are critical of the administration.”
Menendez, whose parents immigrated from Cuba, had been extremely vocal about his opposition to President Obama’s decision to restore relations with Cuba and has been critical of Obama’s deal with Iran.
Dershowitz isn’t the first to float the theory that the indictment — or at least the timing of it — is in response to Menendez’ criticism. Fox News’ Chris Wallace recently asked Sen. Bob Corker whether the timing of the indictment had anything to do with Menendez’ criticism. Corker said there’s “no way of knowing.” (VIDEO: Chris Wallace: Was Menendez Indicted For Opposing Obama’s Foreign Policy?)
Direct political retribution is a serious charge, but even if that’s not the case, Dershowitz still sees a potentially upsetting situation.
“Equally dangerous are prosecutors who seek to curry favor with the administration by prosecuting its enemies without even being told to do so,” Dershowitz wrote.
He predicts the prosecutors will have a difficult time proving that Melgen and Menendez were colluding, when their favors could have been “politics as usual” — just things friends do for friends.
“It is not enough to base prosecutions on the old saw that ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire.’ In cases involving public figures, the smoke may simply be a manifestation of politics as usual — the sort that allows political fundraisers and bundlers to make significant contributions in exchange for what they hope and expect will be access, support and patronage.”
“Because of the long friendship between the Senator and Dr. Melgen, the government will have difficulty proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the Senator’s effort on behalf of his friend were specifically motivated by gifts rather than by an understandable, if not entirely praiseworthy, desire to help an old friend.”
Dershowitz, notably, was sued in a Florida federal court earlier this year by a woman who said that she was forced to have sex with Dershowitz as a minor, while held as a “teenage sex slave” by billionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. A judge threw out the case against Dershowitz this week and he’s suing the accuser for defamation.
Follow Sarah on Twitter