Famed criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz says his friends and family are horrified that he has been defending President Trump — and they’ve made their feelings quite clear to him.
“I wish it was just angst,” the Harvard Law professor said in an interview with the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” published Friday. “Some of them express horror and real animosity sometimes.”
Dershowitz, who describes himself as a liberal Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton, has raised eyebrows among fellow law scholars for his criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and on-air defense of the president’s legal position.
“I wish they’d go back and look at my history,” Dershowitz said. “I get on television to defend the unpopular.”
Dershowitz said it started with his defense of President Richard Nixon when Nixon was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Watergate case.
“I was in favor of impeaching Nixon,” Dershowitz said. “But I was there to protect his civil liberties because I was afraid that when his civil liberties were in any way diminished, all of our civil liberties would be.”
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He was also a vocal defender of O.J. Simpson during his murder trial — which Dershowitz said “didn’t make me very many friends” — as well as President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which made him “a lot of friends on the left.”
“In fact, I was saying about Bill Clinton almost exactly what I’m saying about Donald Trump,” Dershowitz continued. “But the left adored me for my statements about Bill Clinton, and they despise me for making exactly the same statements about a political figure they despise. But I put the Constitution before politics, and I’m always going to be there to defend the civil liberties of anybody I think is being treated unfairly — whether it’s Nazis marching through Skokie or pornographers or very, very controversial presidents of the United States.”
Dershowitz admitted that some of the criticism has taken a toll on him.
“It has hurt me,” he said. “Only because some of my family members who used to take pride in people saying, ‘Oh, you’re related to Alan Dershowitz!’ — people now say to them, ’Oh, you’re related to Alan Dershowitz? Oh, my God! How can you justify what he’s been saying about Donald Trump?’”
Dershowitz — who has met with Trump several times, both at Mar-a-Lago and at the White House — echoed Trump’s claim that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt,” describing it in his upcoming book as “the legal equivalent of a colonoscopy.” He further said that while Trump would be wise not to fire the special counsel, the president would have every right to do so.
He also believes that Trump needs to be guilty of a crime in order to be impeached — and that there is no evidence from the Mueller investigation so far that indicates he is.
“Look, if evidence were to come out of treason or bribery or any other high crime or misdemeanor, obviously my views would change,” Dershowitz said. “But you can’t remove or impeach a president for malpractice in office.”
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