Always ready to set the record straight, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz is poking holes in former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s claims that the then-candidate illegally instructed him to pay hush money to his alleged paramours for the campaign.
In an exclusive interview with ABC on Friday, Michael Cohen not only told George Stephanopoulos that President Trump instructed him to pay off his mistresses but also knew it was the “wrong” thing to do.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong. I stood up before the world and I accepted the responsibility for my actions,” Cohen told Stephanopoulos. When asked if Trump knew it was wrong as well, Cohen said, “of course.”
On Wednesday, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for a whole host of crimes, including tax evasion, lying to Congress, and campaign-finance violations.
Speaking with Fox News on Friday, Alan Dershowitz picked apart Cohen’s case, asserting that he does not seem to understand the difference between “wrong” and “illegal.”
“Reasonable people can disagree about whether it’s wrong to pay hush money to somebody to stop them from disclosing alleged improprieties sexually. Reasonable people can say that’s wrong or that’s right,” Dershowitz said. “It’s not illegal.”
Dershowitz explained that presidential candidates can spend however much personal money they wish to help their own campaign without it being illegal. In the worst case scenario, Trump aided his own campaign by ordering Cohen to pay hush money to paramours as his personal attorney, which would not be illegal. Immoral, yes. Sleazy, yes. Illegal, not so much.
“If a presidential candidate, took cash and went to one of these women and said, ‘I’m paying you not to disclose what happened and I’m doing it in order to help myself be elected president,’ that would not be a crime,” Dershowitz said. “A president is entitled to make campaign contributions to his own campaign. The only issue is if he did it at all, did he do it properly. To the extent that he authorized Cohen, that makes them payments by the president, which makes them legal.”
“Whether you think it’s wrong or right, I don’t understand the case for how it’s illegal,” Dershowitz continued. “If you look at the very, very complicated campaign laws, the one thing that comes out simply is that a candidate may himself or herself contribute as much as they want to a campaign.”
See the full video here.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, President Trump stated that he never directed Cohen to break the law, and if the attorney did break the law, the onus is on his shoulders.
“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law,” said Trump. “He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called ‘advice of counsel,’ and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid.”
President Trump’s lawyers have reportedly echoed the same talking points as Alan Dershowitz.
“Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance,” Trump said. “Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil basis.”