Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz blasted Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Fox News Thursday for essentially trying to lead President Trump into a “perjury trap.”
On Thursday, President Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. In August last year, Cohen told congressional investigators that development of the Moscow project ceased in January 2016; Cohen now claims he was lying at the time and that the talks went on until June 2016 at the height of Trump’s presidential campaign.
According to Dershowitz, Mueller is basically building a “false statements prosecution” against Trump and nothing more.
“What’s happening is the special prosecutor is making all of his cases based on false statements,” Dershowitz said. “Practically, the entire series of indictments grows out of false statements rather than any substantive charges.”
Dershowitz went on to say that Mueller’s investigation was creating the crime rather than finding crimes that were committed – the “perjury trap.” For instance, if Trump being in talks about a tower in Moscow was not a crime, then Mueller’s only option would be to catch Trump or Cohen in a lie about it.
Prior to the Thanksgiving break, President Trump submitted written answers to Robert Mueller in response to questions he had in the investigations. Dershowitz believes that Mueller’s team will now be combing through those answers to find any inconsistencies.
“They’re going to comb through all of the president’s answers and see if they can find anybody who can contradict anything the president says.” Dershowitz said. “That’s why it’s called a perjury trap, because even if the president believes what he said was true, if someone can contradict it, then the president can be charged with lying to government officials.”
“I think the weakness of Mueller’s substantive findings are suggested by the fact that he has to resort to false statement prosecutions, which really shows that he didn’t start with very much, and that the very fact that he’s conducting an investigation has created these crimes,” Dershowitz continued. “These are not crimes that had been committed prior to his appointment, they’re crimes that were committed as the result of his appointment, and that raises some questions about the role of special prosecutors in creating crimes, or creating opportunities for crimes to be committed.”
“In the end, I don’t think Mueller’s going to come up with very much, in terms of criminal conduct, that existed before he was appointed, and that’s pretty shocking,” added Dershowitz.
President Trump has emphatically denounced Michael Cohen as a “weak person” who is lying to get a shorter sentence from Mueller.
“He is a weak person … Michael Cohen is lying and he’s trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me,” President Trump told reporters on Thursday. “When I’m running for president that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do business.”
“This is a deal that didn’t happen. That was no deal,” Trump continued. “It was an option that I decided not to do. We had a position to possibly do a deal, to have a building of some kind in Moscow. I decided not to do it. The primary reason is very simple: I was focused on running for President. There would be nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business.”