Dershowitz: Saying Cohen's Plea Makes Trump an 'Unindicted Co-Conspirator' Is 'Just Wrong'

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 8:00 AM

Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz told Fox News Wednesday that claims by Senate Democrats and liberal pundits that President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea makes the president an “unindicted co-conspirator” are “just wrong as a matter of basic criminal law.”

“The law is clear that a president may contribute to his own campaign so if the President had paid $280,000 to these two women even if he had done so in order to help his campaign,” Dershowitz explained to Fox’s Bret Baier, “that would be no problem, that’s legal, and if Cohen himself made the contribution that would be unlawful because he has a limit of $5,200 so the complicated issue is what if Trump told him to do it as Cohen says?”

Dershowitz explained that, in that case, it would still not be a crime as Cohen would be acting as the president’s representative.

“The campaign contribution would be lawful as long as the president ultimately paid for it,” he said, “so the prosecutor’s in a little bit of a Catch-22. If he believes Cohen that the president directed him to do it then it’s not a crime at all if he doesn’t believe Cohen then Cohen has committed a crime but not the president.”

On that basis, Dershowitz dismissed the label of “unindicted co-conspirator” that pundits and many prominent Democratic senators have been calling the president since Cohen’s plea.

“You don’t become an unindicted co-conspirator if your action is lawful even though the action of the other person is unlawful,” he emphasized.

Baier pressed Dershowitz on why Cohen made these accusations against Trump in the first place.

“This was an add-on, they had him dead to rights on the medallions, on the taxes — they threw this in, not a very strong case, they threw it in in order to give him an opportunity to say something negative about Donald Trump,” Dershowitz replied.

“They’re not going to get close on an impeachment track,” he concluded. “They are not going to find the crime.”

Cohen told the court Tuesday that he violated campaign finance laws in the arrangement of payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, saying he’d violated federal law "in coordination with and at the direction of a federal candidate for office," in a reference to President Trump.