Liberal Harvard professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz on Wednesday took the wind out of the sails of those who hope Michael Cohen’s Tuesday plea deal with prosecutors will lead to President Trump’s impeachment or criminal implication.
“He is more correct than his critics are,” said Dershowitz on Wednesday’s edition of Fox News’ “Special Report With Bret Baier.” “It’s complicated. The law is clear that the president may contribute to his own campaign, so if the president had paid $280,000 to these two women, even if he had done so in order to help his campaign, that would be no problem, it would be legal. If Cohen himself made the contribution that would be unlawful because he has a limit of $5200.”
Dershowitz then described a “catch-22” prosecutors are in.
“If he believes Cohen that the president directed him to do it, then that’s not a crime at all. If he doesn’t believe Cohen, then Cohen has committed a crime and not the president — and the legal pundits have been saying if Cohen admits to a crime, that makes Trump an unindicted coconspirator — just wrong as a matter of basic criminal law. You don’t become an unindicted coconspirator if your action is lawful even though the action of the other person is unlawful.”
When asked why Cohen would plead guilty, Dershowitz said prosecutors had him “dead to rights” on tax crimes, and tacked the other charge as an “add on” to get him to talk about Trump. (RELATED: ‘Essentially Jaywalking’ — Alan Dershowitz Goes On CNN And Lays Out Worst Cast Scenario For Trump)
“It’s not even a close question, that is so over-the-top,” Dershowitz said after Baier played a clip of Trump being accused of “high crime and misdemeanor.” “It is not a crime to contribute to your own campaign. If he had written a letter to these two women saying you’re going to hurt me in my campaign, I’m going to pay you $150,000 to help me get elected president and you have to keep it quiet, it’s hush money. No crime.”
“I challenge any of those who say it’s a crime to find me anything in the criminal law that would make it a crime for a president personally or candidate personally to pay in order to save his own election,” said Dershowitz. “It’s just not against the law. It may be a political sin, even if it determined the outcome of the election but the rule of law requires that when you say something is a crime, show me the statute.”
“Show me the statute,” he continued. “There is no statute that would make that a crime. It might be a misdemeanor for the campaign to fail to report that payment but it would be on the campaign not on the candidate. That’s not even a close question. To talk about this as a high crime and misdemeanor, it’s absurd. That’s not the kind of thing the framers had in mind.”