Back to School: Prof. Dershowitz Calls Out Student Toobin for Being Partisan

Things got heated on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Wednesday when Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz went head-to-head with CNN legal commentator Jeffrey Toobin, who was also a former student of his. Toobin accused his former teacher of “carrying water for Donald Trump,” while Dershowitz scolded his student for applying two different standards for justice depending on who it was targeting. Dershowitz also appeared to accuse his former student of criminalizing political differences.

Host Anderson Cooper brought Dershowitz on the program because President Trump had tweeted out something he had said against the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. “Well, he paraphrased. What I said, I wrote it in an article on The Hill, and as long as ten months ago, I wrote an op-ed entitled, ‘the special counsel is the wrong way to uncover the truth.” I've always believed that,” he stated.

Dershowitz argued that “we should have appointed a bipartisan, nonpartisan commission like they do in England and in Israel, to do an open investigation which the public could see about Russia's involvement in elections and how to stop it.”

Not only wasn't it a mistake [to appoint Mueller], it was required. It was mandatory. If we want to have a legal system that deserves any respect,” declared Toobin before he disrespectfully attacked his teacher. “Alan, I don't know what is going on with you, but this is so obviously a conflict of interest and this was the only way to resolve it.”

 

 

It was back to school time for Toobin as Dershowitz walked him through how the Department of Justice could have handled the investigation by itself. The professor cautioned that a special counsel was basically mandated to find someone guilty of something no matter what. “That's why he has to go after the low-hanging fruit,” he explained. “That's what happened with Clinton. They couldn't find anything with White Water so they went after him for an affair in the oval office and perjury during a deposition.”

After Dershowitz noted that the U.S. was the only democracy that used special counsels and how they were suboptimal for dispensing justice, Toobin besmirched his reputation as an esteemed legal professional:

How has this come about that in every situation over the past year you have been carrying water for Donald Trump? This is not who you used to be and you are doing this over and over again in situations that are just obviously ripe with conflict of interest and it's just -- what's happened with you?

I have attacked President Trump for many, many things. I'm not carrying his water. I'm saying exactly the same thing I've said for 50 years,” Dershowitz fought back. “And, Jeffrey, you ought to know that. You were my student. I have never deviated from this. I have never deviated from this point.

Dershowitz proceeded to scold Toobin for being a naked partisan when it came to applying the law evenly, saying, “The fact that it applies to Trump now, rather than applying to Bill Clinton, is why people like you have turned against me.” “What you accuse me of is not being partisan. You want me to have a different standard against Donald Trump than I did in relation to the Clintons and with everybody else,” he continued.

After contending that there was “criminalization of political differences” against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Dershowitz proclaimed that he had remained “utterly and completely consistent and nonpartisan and Jeffrey, you haven't!

The relevant portions of the transcript are below, click expand to read:

 

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CNN
Anderson Cooper 360
March 21, 2018
8:20:17 PM Eastern

(…)

ANDERSON COOPER: So professor Dershowitz, you say that President Trump is right to say the special counsel should never have been appointed. Can you explain that? Because he is very publicly echoing your argument.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well, he paraphrased. What I said, I wrote it in an article on The Hill, and as long as ten months ago, I wrote an op-ed entitled, “the special counsel is the wrong way to uncover the truth.” I've always believed that. I think the issue here is Russia's involvement in the American election is a systemic issue. We should have appointed a bipartisan, nonpartisan commission like they do in England and in Israel, to do an open investigation which the public could see about Russia's involvement in elections and how to stop it.

Instead of doing that, we appointed a special counsel whose job was to find crimes. Whether they were crimes or not, we still don't know. Collusion is not a crime. Obstruction of justice may not be a crime. If the president engages in it as part of his constitutional authority. So, I still take the position that it was a mistake to appoint a special counsel, that an investigation commission would have been better. The fact the president quotes me is not something I control.

(…)

COOPER: Jeff, was it a mistake to have Mueller in the first place?

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Not only wasn't it a mistake, it was required. It was mandatory. If we want to have a legal system that deserves any respect.

(…)

Alan, I don't know what is going on with you, but this is so obviously a conflict of interest and this was the only way to resolve it.

DERSHOWITZ: There is another way to resolve it. You have the justice department with a recused attorney general, do a standard investigation. The deputy attorney general is not recused. He could have conducted the investigation. Career people in the Justice Department could conduct the investigation.

(…)

If the Justice Department does an investigation and finds no crimes, that's a ho-hum story. But if the special counsel does an investigation and doesn't find crimes, that's a big deal. That's why he has to go after the low-hanging fruit. He has to go after friends, associates. That's what happened with Clinton. They couldn't find anything with White Water so they went after him for an affair in the oval office and perjury during a deposition. That's the problem with a special counsel. It is not a good thing. That's not me speaking. Half the academic world has been opposed to the special counsel. Half the judiciary has been opposed to the special counsel.

(…)

DERSHOWITZ: We're the only democracy in the world that has special counsel and it's a bad approach to justice.

TOOBIN: How has this come about that in every situation over the past year you have been carrying water for Donald Trump? This is not who you used to be and you are doing this over and over again in situations that are just obviously ripe with conflict of interest and it's just -- what's happened with you?

(…)

DERSHOWITZ: I attacked President Trump for is banning of Muslims. I attacked President Trump for leaking material about -- to Russia. I have attacked President Trump for many, many things. I'm not carrying his water. I'm saying exactly the same thing I've said for 50 years. And, Jeffrey, you ought to know that. You were my student. I have never deviated from this. I have never deviated from this point.

The fact that it applies to Trump now, rather than applying to Bill Clinton, is why people like you have turned against me. Don't you understand the principle requires bipartisanship and nonpartisanship and that's who I am and I've always been.

(…)

TOOBIN: But you are criticizing it in the context of, you know, position after position that is in support of exoneration of Donald Trump over again. I mean, come on.

DERSHOWITZ: I have no interest in whether Donald Trump is exonerated or not. If the evidence is against him, I will be the first person to call him out on it. I am asking for non-criminalization of political differences, narrow construction of the criminal law, civil liberties to apply equally to Democrats and Republicans.

What you accuse me of is not being partisan. You want me to have a different standard against Donald Trump than I did in relation to the Clintons and with everybody else. I have said the same thing about Bob Menendez. I said the same thing about everybody who has been prosecuted. I'm saying the same thing about Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel. I think there is criminalization of political differences there. I have utterly and completely consistent and nonpartisan and Jeffrey, you haven't.

(…)


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