Alan Dershowitz warned that the special counsel appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia is turning constitutional actions into crimes.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is “going well beyond his authority as a prosecutor,” the Harvard law professor emeritus and lifelong Democrat told “Outnumbered Overtime” on Monday.
According to Dershowitz, Mueller is treating President Donald Trump’s constitutional actions as if they were crimes. This is part of his attempts to determine whether or not President Trump obstructed Justice.
The Special Counsel recently requested documents regarding the firing of former-FBI Director James Comey from the Justice Department. He is also looking into Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation. Mueller plans to interview a number of White House officials.
Dershowitz repeated his assertion that the constitution gives the president the authority to fire the FBI Director. “The President is entitled to fire the head of the FBI,” he said. “The president is entitled to direct his attorney general who to investigate, who not to.”
The law professor also stated that presidents have possessed this authority for hundreds of years. “That’s what the law has been since Thomas Jefferson,” Dershowitz said.
He argued that if this is to be changed, it must be done through legislation. “I don’t see that the prosecutor should have a right to turn a constitutionally protected act of the president into a crime by speculating on what his motive might have been,” he said, adding, “These are political sins if they are sins at all. They are not crimes.”
Dershowitz believes that Mueller is going to try to find evidence of wrongdoing through one of Mr. Trump’s associates. He stated that the Special Counsel would indict people with knowledge of the Trump campaign and pressure those people into disclosing potentially damaging information about the President.
If Dershowitz is right, Mueller is playing a dangerous game. The law professor stated that when people are targeted in this way, they may make exaggerated claims to get a better plea deal. He says this happens because these individuals know that “the better the evidence, the sweeter the deal.”
Dershowitz also argued that there is no reason to investigate either President Trump or Hillary Clinton, but he does believe that a bipartisan commission should look into Russia’s influence on elections.
If Mueller is going beyond the scope of his mandate, it could cause problems for the Trump administration. As seen previously, special counsels tend to investigate matters for which they were not appointed, and it could lead to serious issues. Many have expressed their concerns that Mueller’s investigation is designed to damage the President, not discover more information about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
If Mueller’s investigation is politically motivated, it may not only cause problems for President Trump, but also for the Special Counsel himself. As time goes on, Mueller’s actions show that this probe could be nothing more than the witch hunt many already believe it to be. This could mean that the results of the investigation might be questioned by the GOP as well as others. Either way, that knowledge is unknown until the Special Counsel concludes his investigation.
With independent counsels such as Mueller, the chances of prosecutorial overreach, are, if anything, much greater. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was troubled by the law that created the office of independent counsel (popularly referred to as “special prosecutor”). He believed it both dangerous and unconstitutional, and was the lone dissent in the case involving the legality of the creation of independent counsels. He argued that the statute was a dangerous limitation on the executive power that would lead to prosecutors bringing politically motivated cases.