Dershowitz: Candidate Entitled To Pay Hush Money, Committed No Election Crime

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Alan Dershowitz said the only campaign violation that could have happened is if former Trump attorney Michael Cohen did break a campaign finance law on his own volution and called the situation a "Catch-22" on MSNBC this afternoon.


MSNBC HOST: Can I ask about a couple things, Alan? .. You said last night, 'All Cohen has to do is say the president directed me to do it. That's the kind of embellishment people put on a story when they want to avoid dying in prison.' Are you suggesting Cohen lied under oath?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well, we don't know. All we know is what Judge Ellis said.



Judge Ellis said is when you put pressure on somebody like Cohen, there is an incentive to embellish the story and make it better because he's now facing 4 years. So if he comes up with strong evidence against the president that will be reduced to 2 years, 3 years, or 1 year. ...

I have no idea whether Cohen is telling the truth or not, but the interesting thing is, if Cohen is telling the truth it's a catch-22 for the prosecution. Let me lay this out for 60 seconds...

Here's the issue: The president is entitled to pay hush money to anyone he wants during a campaign. There are no restrictions on what a candidate can contribute to his own campaign. So if, in fact, the president directed Cohen to do it as his lawyer and was going to compensate him for it, the president committed no crime. if Cohen did it on his own --

MSNBC HOST: That seems awfully convoluted, Alan.

DERSHOWITZ: -- then Cohen commits the crime.

It's convoluted. The law is convoluted.

MSNBC HOST: Prosecutors have said Michael Cohen broke the law and Michael Cohen says, the president told me to do it. You said last night, as well that you every president breaks the law during an election. Really? Does that make it okay?

DERSHOWITZ: No. I said --

MSNBC HOST: Your quote is every candidate violates election laws when they run for president.

DERSHOWITZ: Let me tell you what I said.

MSNBC HOST: I just told you.

DERSHOWITZ: Candidates violate election laws all the time, go back to any campaign's campaign violations.

MSNBC HOST: But does that make it okay?

DERSHOWITZ: No, it doesn't, but let be very clear.

MSNBC HOST: Isn't that moving the goalposts?

DERSHOWITZ: You're not letting me make my point.

MSNBC HOST: All yours.

DERSHOWITZ: The president doesn't break the law if, as a candidate, he contributes to his own campaign. So if he gave $1 million to two women as hush money, there would be in crime. If he directed his lawyer to do it, and he would compensate the lawyer, he's committed no crime.

The only crime is if a third-party, namely, Cohen, on his own, contributed to a campaign, that would be a campaign contribution. So it is a catch-22 for the prosecution. iI they claim that the president authorized him to do it or directed him to do it, it is not a crime for anybody. If Cohen did it on his own, then it is a crime for Cohen but not the president.

This is going to be a very difficult case for the prosecution to make, precisely because the laws on election are so convoluted.

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