The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: alan dershowitz

Judge Slaps Down Dershowitz Demand That FBI Return Pillow Guy's Phone

My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell will not be getting his cell phone back from the FBI any time soon, even after his new lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, demanded it from a federal court in their First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment lawsuit against Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray.

Lindell’s phone was seized by federal agents at an Indiana Hardee’s drive-thru after a duck hunting trip the shredded foam entrepreneur and right-wing conspiracy theorist recently took. Last week he accused the federal government of engaging in “Gestapo tactics” for taking his phone, despite a warrant that shows he is reportedly under investigation for possible identity theft, conspiring to damage a protected computer connected to a suspected voting equipment security breach, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

On Tuesday Dershowitz and three other attorneys filed suit against the DOJ in a Minnesota federal court.

On Wednesday Dershowitz and the other attorneys filed a memorandum demanding the judge appoint a special master, and in an interview on Lindell’s streaming video website went so far as to state, “What we’re seeking is what President Trump got in the Mar-a-Lago case, the appointment of a special investigator to look into this – or return of the cell phone.”

On Thursday United States District Court Judge Eric Tostrud of Minnesota, appointed by Donald Trump in 2018, responded, in this order posted by Politico’s Kyle Cheney.

“Denied,” he wrote in his ruling, while criticizing the attorneys’ work, presumably including Dershowitz’s.

“Plaintiffs,” Judge Tostrud wrote, “have not served Defendants [Garland and Wray] with the Complaint, or at least Plaintiffs have not yet filed any proof of service.”

That was just the first slap.

Lindell’s attorneys, including Dershowitz, had said the seizure of Lindell’s phone constituted an “emergency,” and filed a request for a temporary restraining order.

Tostrud spent the next several pages of his Thursday order explaining all the technical and legal reasons why the motion requesting Lindell’s phone be returned were faulty or just wrong.

Among them: “A temporary restraining order is an ‘extraordinary remedy.'”

Other legalese include, “The request does not comply with Rule 65(b),” “With respect to subparagraph (b)(1)(B), however, Plaintiffs’ attorney filed no certification,” and “Plaintiffs do not discuss the Rule or cite any authority that might explain why the cellphone’s return is appropriate under the Rule.”

Other damning language includes, “But that’s it,” “that’s understating things,” and “it would be a stretch to grant relief.”

Then there’s this one: “It is a familiar rule that courts of equity do not ordinarily restrain criminal prosecutions.”

The judge even cited Wednesday evening’s 11th Circuit smack-down of Donald Trump’s attempt to claim 100 classified documents may or may not be classified but should be returned to him in his criticism.

Top national security attorney Brad Moss referred to that as he mocked Dershowitz, saying, “nice lawyering, sir.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Dershowitz on Trump Lawyer: ‘I Have No Idea What He’s Doing’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Alan Dershowitz panned the performance of President Donald Trump's first lawyer in his Senate impeachment trial, Bruce Castor, in an appearance during the proceedings on Tuesday. Dershowitz appeared bewildered at the opening remarks.

"I have no idea what he's doing," said Dershowitz, who defended Trump during his first impeachment. "Maybe he'll bring it home, but right now, it does not appear to me to be effective advocacy."

Castor's rambling and unfocused argument was widely criticized. Noting that Castor had seemed to go out of his way to praise the Senators, Dershowitz said: "Maybe they want to be buttered up, maybe they want to be told what great people they are and how he knows two Senators, but it's not the kind of argument I would have made, I have to tell you that."

Instead, Dershowitz, who was recently exposed for trying to get presidential clemency for convicted child sex trafficker George Nader, said he would have argued that the president's alleged incitement of an insurrection was protected First Amendment speech. Many other experts and scholars have argued, however, that the First Amendment does not cover Trump's conduct.

Watch the clip below:

The Sad Implosion Of Alan Dershowitz

The road leading to President Donald Trump’s acquittal from charges of which he is plainly guilty is littered with a trail of public figures selling their souls and abandoning their consciences. Few have been more dispiriting, however, than retired law professor Alan Dershowitz, whose reputation imploded in national view during Trump’s impeachment trial, all seemingly because of an unquenchable thirst for limelight. Dershowitz’s embarrassing performance in the service of a corrupt president who positively basks in a totalitarian’s view of his own power (speaking of the Constitution, he said, “I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president”) left Dershowitz looking like a sad and simple toady, so enthralled by media attention that he is willing to say anything for anyone in order to get it.

From its outset, the Trump presidency provided Dershowitz the welcome opportunity for attention, and he has taken advantage of it. He has been ubiquitous on cable television, sounding somewhere between silly and ridiculous on the president’s behalf, arguing that the poor beleaguered Trump was being persecuted by those bent on trampling his civil liberties. As impeachment proceedings got underway, Dershowitz found himself in increasing demand and was tapped to be on Trump’s defense team, an appointment he appeared to relish. His pitch: However accurately the articles of impeachment passed by the House summarize Trump’s conduct, Trump cannot be impeached because he has not committed a statutory crime. Before you could say, “egg on his face,” a clip surfaced of Dershowitz proclaiming the precise opposite with equal self-assurance in 1999. “It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime,” Dershowitz had said. “If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of the president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime.”

Faced with this direct contradiction from his own lips, Dershowitz launched a series of cringeworthy “clarifications” that damaged his credibility further. “I wasn’t wrong. I have a more sophisticated basis for my argument,” he explained to one interviewer. “I didn’t do research back then. I relied on what professors said,” he told another. “I am much more correct right now,” he insisted to a third, a line that may live on for its hubris and its inanity.

From there, Dershowitz proceeded to the well of the Senate to declare on behalf of President Trump that Trump could demand whatever he wanted of whomever he wanted as long as he believed it would get him reelected. “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” announced Dershowitz. This concept of American democracy evoked Mussolini more than Jefferson. Once again, Dershowitz tried to backtrack, falsely denying what he had said and then accusing those who had heard him of “distortion.”

In his needy zeal for the spotlight, Dershowitz has self-eviscerated, eliminating his credibility on an issue that, one imagines, matters more to him than Trump does. For decades, Dershowitz has ably made the progressive case for Israel, challenging its critics on the left and arguing, frequently under fire, that those who genuinely care about democratic values should regard Israel, which has broadly preserved those values, with respect, rather than hatred. Dershowitz’s unprincipled defense of the attempted dismantling of democracy by a president contemptuous of it has served to decommission him as an advocate for Israel; his association with Israel hurts Israel, rather than helps it, which is too bad for it and too bad for him.

In fairness, Donald Trump has had quite a team of enablers, and Dershowitz is far from the only one who has contributed to our crisis by letting his country down. He is a reminder of how much, and how quickly, work needs to be done to restore our nation to the one we once took for granted.

Jeff Robbins, a former assistant United States attorney and United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was chief counsel for the minority of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. An attorney specializing in the First Amendment, he is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.

Danziger: Unhappy Ending

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at

Dershowitz’s Poisoned Defense

Americans ought to thank Alan Dershowitz for his scintillating defense of President Donald Trump. Carried away on a crescendo of bluster, the retired Harvard law professor broadcast the true meaning of the acquittal preordained by crooked Senate Republicans: This president is exempt from any legal consequences, even if he seeks foreign assistance to rig his own election.

While the Dershowitz defense provoked an eruption of astonished guffaws and jeers — with “preposterous” the most frequent term of derision — it is significant precisely because it is so absurd and so blatantly disdainful of American constitutional values. It is also important to understand why the professor found himself advancing such a claim as senators prepare to vote on witnesses.

To align his closing argument with the White House and the Republicans, Dershowitz abandoned all pretense that the president didn’t shake down his Ukrainian counterpart to mount an investigation of Joe Biden and Hunter Biden in exchange for military aid and political support. Forced to acknowledge what everyone now knows about that scheme, Dershowitz instead insisted that even though Trump engaged in a quid pro quo, he is still immune from impeachment.

Prone as he is to extensive bloviation, Dershowitz dressed up his claim in dubious analogies and historical misinterpretations, with inferences drawn from the Mideast conflict and the Civil War. (If you enjoy listening to Dershowitz’s voice as much as he does, you can find the full riff on YouTube.) But with all the froth boiled away, the essence of his argument is unmistakable.

“Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. Mostly you are right. Your election is in the public interest,” said Dershowitz, asserting a judgment that is true of fewer than half the politicians upon whom he gazed. “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” He suggested that such a deal would only be impeachable if motivated by financial gain.

Could “something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest” mean literally anything? Would shooting someone on Fifth Avenue be excused, too, or only “something” like extorting a hit job by a foreign power on a political opponent?

Eminent legal minds and Democratic senators pounced on the absurdity of Dershowitz’s statement — which blithely erased Trump’s corrupt abuse of power by attributing a pure motive to him. Dershowitz shot back, saying that the critics had willfully misinterpreted his words. But there is no way to parse them that is constitutionally palatable. They reek of a poison that would kill our system of free government.

Why would Dershowitz make this silly argument now? As fresh evidence of the criminal extortion scheme accumulates, including the possible testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton, this is the last defense left to the Trump lawyers. They know that the evidence overwhelmingly proves Trump is lying, and they don’t want that evidence paraded before the public on TV. Therefore, they must insist that the evidence wouldn’t matter. According to them, Trump is innocent even if he’s guilty, because he’s the president.

If that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget, it’s former President Richard Nixon, who blurted, “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Or, as Trump more crudely expressed in the dictatorial boast, “I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

Both of these strutting autocrats were wrong. So are the Senate Republicans who seem prepared to violate their oath in advancing a criminal cover-up. Their craven complicity in these outrages will outlive them all, including Dershowitz.

Meanwhile, perhaps gazing up from a very hot place, Roy Cohn must be smiling. At long last, he has some very distinguished company.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Dershowitz: Trump Crimes Are Excusable If His Re-election Is ‘In Public Interest’

Donald Trump’s defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz raised eyebrows on Wednesday when he argued that Trump has free reign to cheat in an election if he believes his victory would be in the best interest of the American people.

“If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” Dershowitz said on the Senate floor, during the question-and-answer period of the impeachment trial against Trump.

Dershowitz’s argument got immediate pushback by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a House impeachment manager, who has been arguing that Trump has to be removed from office because his cheating cuts at the very heart of the Constitutional right to free and fair elections.

“Bear in mind that efforts to cheat in an election are always going to be in proximity to an election,” Schiff said. “So if you say you can’t hold a president accountable in an election year, where they’re trying to cheat in an election, then you are giving them carte blanche.”

Others pointed out that Dershowitz’s argument means that former President Richard Nixon could’ve made the same argument against his impeachment and removal from office for covering up the break-in of the Democratic National Committee office.

“Using Dershowitz’s logic, couldn’t Nixon have justified that both the break-in and the cover-up of Watergate (which were both purely for his political interest) as ‘in the national interest,’ and therefore not impeachable?” Mo Elleithee, a former DNC official who now teaches at Georgetown University, tweeted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Danziger: Reasonable Doubts

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at

Danziger: Trouble In Paradise

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at