The federal indictment against former President Donald Trump fails a crucial test, law professor Alan Dershowitz says.
“It doesn’t meet what I call the Richard Nixon standard, which was very clear obstruction of justice, destroying evidence, paying bribes,” Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, said on Newsmax on June 9 after the indictment was unsealed.
“This is too close a case to bring against the man running for president, against the incumbent president,” Dershowitz added.
Two paragraphs in the indictment do appear to meet the standard of the planned prosecution of former President Nixon, according to the law professor.
f‘Highly Confidential’ Plan
Those paragraphs refer to Trump allegedly showing an unidentified writer, publisher, and staff members a “highly confidential” plan to attack a country.
U.S. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted in a news story on July 15, 2021, as fighting to stop Trump from ordering an attack on Iran.
Six days later, Trump showed the writer and publisher what he described as a “plan of attack” from the same general.
“Isn’t this amazing? This totally wins my case, except it is like, highly confidential,” Trump is quoted as saying in the indictment.
“As president, I could have declassified it. Now I can’t but this is still a secret,” he was also quoted as saying.
The indictment charges Trump with various crimes, including illegally disclosing national defense information.
‘Will Have to Be Explained’
“We’re going to have to hear an exception from Trump’s lawyers or from Trump as to how we can justify having shown to somebody who doesn’t have security clearance allegedly some information about a plan to attack Iran,” Dershowitz said on Newsmax.
None of the people shown the document held a security clearance, U.S. authorities say.
Trump “may claim he didn’t show it to them, just kind of waved it in front of them as part of bragging but that’s something that will have to be explained,” Dershowitz said. “When you have a tape in the voice of the defendant himself it’s hard to dispute, so I think this is a serious indictment on these two charges. Everything else I think was exactly what we expected,” he also said.
Trump said after the indictment was released that he is innocent and accused the government of corruption. He shared posts on social media noting that a number of top officials possessed classified information, such as former President Bill Clinton, but were not charged.
‘One Set of Laws’
Special counsel Jack Smith, whose presented charges against Trump were approved by a grand jury, said in prepared remarks from Washington that “Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced” and “violations of those laws put our country at risk.”
He added, “We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone.”
Trump has said that he declassified documents before leaving office. Presidents have the power of declassification.
Dershowitz, who represented Trump during one of his impeachment trials, said in an op-ed that one question is whether Trump actually declassified the documents.
“If he claims he did, it will be up to the government to challenge that assertion. It could do so in several ways. It could offer evidence designed to disprove Mr. Trump’s claim. But proving a negative—in this case, that he did not declassify the documents—is always difficult,” Dershowitz wrote.
“In the usual criminal prosecution, the government has the heavy burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt,” he added later.
Smith said the indictment outlined serious crimes but also noted that Trump and an aide who were charged “must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”