Alan Dershowitz On His Relationship With Clinton And Trump, His Career And More

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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In the first episode of “The Jamie Weinstein Show” podcast, retired Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz discusses his relationship with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the state of American politics and the lessons he learned over his successful career.

Show Map: 

  • Dershowitz on his personal interactions with Trump (6:30)
  • Stories about Roy Cohn and how he may have influenced Trump (12:00)
  • Dershowitz on his personal interactions with Hillary Clinton (16:57)
  • Dershowitz discusses the famous students he taught, from Ted Cruz to Samantha Power (30:25)
  • On the “repressive” left and its threat to the Democratic Party (35:40)
  • Dershowitz defends Julian Assange (43:00)
  • How Dershowitz went from an academic failure to youngest tenured Harvard Law professor ever (44:38)
  • Dershowitz on the books that shaped him, the historical figure he most admires and his legacy (49:42)

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Here are some newsworthy highlights from the conversation:

Dershowitz on his personal interactions with Trump: “My own view is that he personally is not a bigot.”

“I met him on a couple of occasions. …My own view is that he personally is not a bigot. Hard to grow up in New York and be in the business he’s in and actually feel the kind of bigotry that has been attributed to him. I think he’s a canny politician and he knows he can’t win this election without the Alt-Right, without getting people to vote for him whose views he disapproves of. But he hasn’t had the courage to really stand up to the Alt-Right in the way he should. Neither has his vice presidential candidate.”

Dershowitz on accusations of anti-Semitism against Trump: “He may be the presidential candidate who is closest to the Jewish community of anyone in modern history.”

“I do not think there is an ounce of anti-Semitism in Donald Trump… I think he likes to play both sides against the middle. But I don’t, for a moment, believe that he’s anti-Semitic. He may be the presidential candidate who is closest to the Jewish community of anyone in modern history, both through his family and through his friends. You can’t be a real estate developer in the city of New York without having very close contact with Jews. Remember that the racism that his father began the business with was a racism that said, ‘Don’t rent to blacks, rent to Jews. Jews are our good customers, we want them to live in our buildings. We don’t want blacks to live in our buildings.’ So his father’s racism, and I think there’s no doubt that his father was a racist, took the form of anti-black and philo-Semitic. What his actual feelings were toward Jews, I have no idea. I don’t believe Donald Trump has any bigotry in his own mind.”

Dershowitz On Roy Cohn’s Influence On Trump:

“One more story about Roy Cohn, which may help to explain Donald Trump. So a friend of mine, a brilliant, brilliant law professor who I went to college with, was being considered for a federal judgeship. And he got vetoed because he had written an article at a young age proposing legalization of marijuana. And this was during a Republican time. I called Roy Cohn and I said, ‘Roy, this guy is fantastic. You ought not to be stopping him. He’s going to be another Felix Frankfurter, he’ll be conservative, he’ll be thoughtful, he’ll be a great judge.’ And Roy said, ‘I don’t care about whether he’d be a great judge. If you tell me that you want him to be a judge, I’m going to make him a judge. It’s all about loyalty, it’s not about principles or politics.’ Well, it turned out it was too late, his name had been withdrawn, but that was an interesting conversation. For Roy Cohn, it was about loyalty. And I can understand the influence that Roy Cohn may have had on a young Donald Trump.”

Dershowitz vouches for Hillary’s health: “When she was on Martha’s Vineyard this summer, and I went to an event, she was just at the top of her game.”

“When she was on Martha’s Vineyard this summer, and I went to an event, she was just at the top of her game. She was supposed to speak fifteen minutes, she, we all said, pulled a Bill Clinton. She spoke for thirty-five, forty minutes very enthusiastically and very much with a tremendous amount of energy. And then she stopped, she talked to everybody. So we saw nothing like that at all and I’m very close friends with three or four of her closest women friends and they don’t lie to me. They all said they were very surprised, that she seems to be in very good health.”

Dershowitz on Samantha Power’s feelings about the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis in Syria: “She’s in turmoil”

“I was among those people who spoke to her, obviously, about that. She’s in turmoil. She is not the president, she is not the Secretary of State. She is America’s mouthpiece at the United Nations and I’m sure that she wants very much for us to do more.”

Dershowitz on Sidney Blumenthal’s influence on Hillary Clinton: “I have warned the Democratic Party and the Clintons, in particular, about the Blumenthal connection.”

“It is worrisome to me. What’s worrisome to me is that Sidney Blumenthal circulated his son’s [Max’s] writings, despicable writings. You know, they wouldn’t use the words to attack David Duke. I will use those words to attack [Max] Blumenthal. He is a despicable anti-Semite and a horrible person and he should be marginalized completely. I don’t think he’s a Democrat. His father is a Democrat. And I have to tell you, I have warned the Democratic Party and the Clintons, in particular, about the Blumenthal connection. And I hope they’ll keep their distance. Because you don’t blame the father for the sins of the son – and the sins here are plentiful – but you do blame the father for circulating the son’s memos and suggesting that they’re thoughtful or good when they’re not. They’re bigoted.”

Dershowitz defends Julian Assange: He’s like “the New York Times, the Washington Post.”

“Assange is the New York Times, the Washington Post. He was the passive recipient of the material and he chose to publish it. …I don’t believe he’s under the sway of Russia at all. He’s a very independent guy. But I don’t think he should be interfering with an American election and it seems to me the way he’s selecting material to publish may have the thumb on the scale. And a journalist shouldn’t be doing that. He’s hurting his own credibility, as a journalist, if he’s perceived as somebody who is favoring one candidate in this election.”

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