Alan Dershowitz: Only Thing That Matters About Michael Cohen Is What Can The Feds Threaten Him With


During ABC's 'This Week' roundtable, Harvard's Alan Dershowitz argues with Pace University Law School's Miriam Rocah, a former federal prosecutor, about the tactics the feds use on potential witnesses and "cooperators."

DERSHOWITZ: This is so naive. Came across. Mueller is looking for low-hanging fruit. He's looking for anything...

ROCAH: That's what's called investigating.

DERSHOWITZ: … he can find against anybody who is associated with the president so he can flip them...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if it weren't there it wouldn't be a problem.

DERSHOWITZ: Of course. But it's there -- you know, crime -- broad federal criminal statutes, campaign contributions, bank records, you can find them against almost every very complex business person or political person. The question is how hard you look. And when you look hard, you have enough for a search warrant, which is fairly minimal. And then the pressure increases.

He also debates ABC crime reporter Dan Abrams:

DERSHOWITZ: None of this stuff matters and it doesn't matter whether [Cohen] likes the president or doesn't like the president. What matters is the sword of Damocles hanging over his head.

Michael Milken, they told him they were going to indict his brother unless he pleaded guilty. Jonathan Pollard, they told him they were going to indict his wife. I can go down case after case after case...

ROCAH: But that may be...


DERSHOWITZ: … where the prosecutors...


ROCAH: … involved in criminal activity.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, of course, that's the point. The point...

ROCAH: But to say that the government threatens people's relatives with the...


DERSHOWITZ: I didn't say no basis. I said they threaten relatives and then they create the basis. They wouldn't otherwise go after these people. But they hold these people hostage. That's what prosecutors do. Every defense attorney knows that. And to look in the camera and say that prosecutors don't threaten relatives is to mislead the American public. Sorry.

ROCAH: I disagree, obviously. But the other point is that, you know, cooperators -- I just have to keep coming back to this. It's -- they're not going to just take what he says at face value. They're going to test it. It's not going to be a case written down what Michael Cohen says.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They already have some documents.

ROCAH: Correct. They have lots of evidence. We know that because they got a search warrant. And the search warrant, you know, was based on probable cause to believe that...

ABRAMS: But against Michael Cohen. I mean, we keep lumping in Cohen and Trump.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's actually where we should be (INAUDIBLE) right now. The point is that Michael Cohen is now under serious threat. He has had this raid. We've even had the judge in the Stormy Daniels case say that it's very possible if not likely he's going to get indicted. We've seen another attorney he worked with flip as well.

After a raid like this, the chances of indictment quite high.

ABRAMS: Very high. Very high that he's going to be indicted. But we have to separate out the two. They got a warrant here not because there was information on Donald Trump that they wanted from Michael Cohen. They got the warrant because there was information on Michael Cohen potentially committing a crime.

DERSHOWITZ: And if you believe that I have a bridge...


ABRAMS: So you're actually going to say that a judge signed off on a warrant...

DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely.

ABRAMS: … to get to...


DERSHOWITZ: You can get judges to sign off on warrants like Christmas presents.

ABRAMS: To get information on his client? So they signed off on a warrant saying, we want information on his client not on him?

DERSHOWITZ: There's no way in which they would go after Michael Cohen if they weren't interested in his client. They're interested in his client in two different ways. Number one...

ABRAMS: Because there's no way he could have committed a crime by himself.

DERSHOWITZ: He might have. But they wouldn't have found -- they wouldn't have even looked at what he was doing if he weren't the president's lawyer. They're going after him for two reasons. One, to try to flip him, and two, to try to find information that would show that there is an exception to the lawyer-client privilege under the crime fraud.

You know, if you're going to...

ABRAMS: Who's the "they," by the way?

DERSHOWITZ: The prosecutors.

ABRAMS: Well, which prosecutor?

DERSHOWITZ: The Southern District of New York.

ABRAMS: OK. So it's not Mueller's team now.

DERSHOWITZ: They're working together. If they weren't working together, then Sessions would be back on the case because he only recused himself...

ABRAMS: In theory.

DERSHOWITZ: … from the Russia investigation. If these were separate investigations...

ABRAMS: So there's no such thing as independent work on the part...


DERSHOWITZ: Not in this case.

ABRAMS: So and in the District of Columbia, when they're investigating McCabe, that, too, is going to be hand-in-hand?

DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely. Of course, they're all working close together to try to target the president or people close to him.

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