Alan Dershowitz on Trump and Campaign Finance: ‘I Don’t Think He’s in Trouble’
'The only issue is whether or not the hush money, which was legal, was paid properly'
Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, argued Monday morning that the accusations against President Donald Trump on campaign finance law violations don’t rise to a serious or impeachment offense.
“I don’t think he’s in trouble on campaign finance because people forget that a candidate can contribute as much as he or she wants to their own campaign,” Dershowitz told host Laura Ingraham on “The Laura Ingraham Show” on Monday morning. “The only issue in the case is whether or not the hush money, which was legal, was paid properly.”
Trump was recently implicated in a campaign finance-related crime by his own former lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Cohen told authorities that the president directed him to arrange payments to two women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs ahead of the presidential election of 2016 — affairs that Trump has denied.
Dershowitz is saying that wouldn’t necessarily be an issue.
“Was it done through personal funds, corporate funds, campaign funds?” Dershowitz said. “And we don’t know the answer to that question, so it does not seem to me that is an impeachable offense or an offense that would result in any kind of serious prosecution.”
Cohen has been cooperating with officials as part of a plea deal he made with the special counsel investigation that’s been underway since mid-2017. Cohen was later sentenced to three years in prison — on December 12.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been leading the special counsel investigation into whether or not the president or his associates colluded with Russian interests to sway the results of the election.
“I have long thought his greatest vulnerabilities could be his business dealings from before Trump became president,” Dershowitz told Ingraham. “And I know they’re looking into those. But those, too, are not impeachable offenses. For it to be an impeachable offense, it has to be a high crime that occurred during the presidency or arguably on the road to the presidency when he was a candidate. I just don’t see that.”
Cohen became a person of interest early on because of his close connection to the president as his former lawyer.
But he isn’t the only person who has drawn pressure from the special counsel team. General Michael Flynn, who briefly served as national security adviser to Trump, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI as part of a plea deal he made with the special counsel team last December.
But his cooperation with the investigation has become strained since raising concerns last week about how they questioned him.
“So I don’t we’re going to see a report with a lot of sin in it but not a lot of crimes,” Dershowitz also said on Monday morning. “As far as the Flynn thing, that’s fascinating. People don’t realize that he didn’t commit a crime even if he lied, because for a lie to be a crime it has to be material. And in my view, at least, it can’t be material if the FBI already knew the answer to the question.”
Flynn seemed to imply in his court filing that the team misled him during questioning; the team apparently made it appear that a casual visit by Flynn did not require a lawyer. He said the team then proceeded to ask him questions they already knew the answers to — to get him to lie.
He then claims to have misspoken because he didn’t remember his meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison this past Wednesday for tax evasion, for lying to lawmakers and for payments that allegedly violated campaign finance law.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said in his ruling that Cohen deserved a harsh punishment even though he worked with an investigation against the president as part of a plea deal.
The special counsel team suggested Cohen receive a tough but fair sentence in a court filing on December 7.
The filing argues that the punishment should reflect his lies — but also his efforts to remediate his misconduct. Cohen has worked with federal investigators since turning himself in on August 21.
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