I always find attorney Alan Dershowitz’s commentary to be interesting because, like George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley, he’s not from the right—but he’ll still call it like he sees it and doesn’t bend the truth to fit his preferred narrative like a CNN anchor or White House appointee.
He even famously lost the Martha’s Vineyard cocktail crowd due to his vocal criticism of the sham efforts to impeach former President Donald Trump. It’s also true, however, that he has never met a camera he didn’t like and will appear on virtually any TV news show willing to have him.
He weighed in Friday with his thoughts on the indictment dropped on Trump Thursday over classified documents and said that while the strength of the charges was mixed, Donald Trump did have one Achilles heel: his inability to keep his mouth shut.
This indictment is stronger than I anticipated in one respect and in one respect only.
It has the text of a conversation between former President Trump and a writer in which Trump says: Look, I know these documents that I have in my hand are secret. I could have declassified them. I didn’t. Here, I’m going to show them to you to prove my point.
That does seem to be evidence that at least there were some documents that President Trump knew were not unclassified. He had them in his possession.
Whether the documents were actually given to an unauthorized person to read or just flashed before his eyes, as part of typical Trump bravado, the government is going to have to prove.
Other legal commentators have pointed out the same thing: it’s one thing to have Trump’s voice on tape claiming he has a classified document in his hands; it’s another to prove that he wasn’t just being bombastic. Is there a witness (Mark Meadows?) who will testify that he actually saw the document with his own eyes?
Dershowitz doesn’t think the former president will go to jail over this, but he does think Trump brought this on himself with his inability to zip it:
I would think he probably would not be going to prison, but I would be cautioning him to make sure he doesn’t say anything more. That increases those chances.
Somebody I know once gave him a gift of a fish that had been caught and stuffed and put on a plaque. And the plaque said, ‘If I had only kept my mouth shut, I’d still be swimming.’
President Trump is going to have to look in the mirror and say, “Why did I allow myself to be taped in a conversation with a writer when I knew I was being taped?”
Trump has obviously a history and a reputation of speaking too much and getting himself into trouble. This may be the worst sentence he ever uttered in terms of his own protection from criminal prosecution. [Emphasis mine.]
He continued to opine that the rest of the case was pretty weak and that many of the charges would not have been brought if we were talking about anyone other than Trump.
The Espionage Act is one of the most dangerous and unconstitutional statutes ever passed. [It was] passed by Woodrow Wilson in 1917 in order to imprison dissidents who were opposed to the war. Every civil libertarian, every liberal, every progressive, every Democrat I know was against this statute for the last 100 years. Now, they’re all rooting for it to be applied broadly to conduct that has nothing to do with espionage. There’s no allegation that he ever endangered national security or showed material to enemies or sold it to [enemies].”
While it’s obvious to most thinking people that Trump’s indictment is the politically motivated machinations of a banana republic regime, many commentators like Dershowitz are clear that Trump’s penchant for saying too much has put him in serious legal jeopardy.