I don’t watch news programs on television, so I had no idea that presumed civil libertarian and frequent defender of lost (and justifiably losing) causes Alan Dershowitz has been “a staunch defender” of Donald Trump, as he was characterized today in London’s Daily Mail, which in turn cited a report aired on ABC News’ This Week program hosted by George Stephanopoulos.
Now that I know, I wish I didn’t.
The Daily Mail article by Chris Dyer cites Dershowitz’s comment that special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s upcoming report will be “politically devastating” for Trump, but Dershowitz also said that he did not think that criminal charges would be forthcoming because “collusion (is) not a crime.” These opinions are cited as bullet points in the Daily Mail Article:
Since when is collusion not a crime? (Hint: the answer is that collusion is a crime when the intent of the collusion is to defraud another person.)
“Collusion” is defined as a “secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.” Wikipedia defines criminal conspiracy as “an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime at some time in the future.”
Title 18, Part I, Chapter 19 Section 371 of the U. S. Code defines criminal conspiracy this way:
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.
Collusion for the purpose of suborning a presidential election is quite clearly a felony, not a misdemeanor. Knowledge of attempts to suborn the election by manipulating public opinion, making privileged communications public, hijacking voting machines, or disrupting the balloting process — all of which took place during the 2016 election also makes Trump an accessory before the fact. Attempts to conceal the Russian operation after the election make Trump an accessory after the fact.
Either way, Alan Dershowitz is injecting disingenuous disinformation into the public scrutiny of the Mueller investigation by asserting that collusion is not a crime when the U.S. Code -also known as the Laws of the United States — clearly indicates that collusion is indeed a crime. In so doing, Dershowitz is laying the groundwork for the Trump Defense Team. As a former professor at the Harvard University Law School, Dershotwitz cannot be unaware that collusion is just another term for conspiracy and that conspiracy is in fact a crime.
In the ABC News interview, Dershowitz also predicted that the Mueller Commission would not hand down any indictments against Donald Trump, saying that, while the special counsel’s report will be politically devastating, “I still don’t think it’s going to make a criminal case.”
Question: Why not? Thirty-two individuals have already been indicted for crimes associated with the 2016 presidential election. Six individuals have pled guilty so far and three have already been sentenced.
The definition of criminal conspiracy starts at two. If two people are in collusion to commit an illegal act, that constitutes the basis of a conspiracy charge. Therefore, if Donald Trump can be placed with any of those 32 indicted individuals when a conversation about a criminal act took place, then Donald Trump would be guilty of criminal conspiracy. Since six of the 32 indicted individuals have already pled guilty on various charges stemming from the investigations, there is good reason to suspect that Donald Trump had criminal conversations with at least one of them.
Even if Trump never spoke to any of those 32 individuals, he could still be guilty of criminal conspiracy if he held conversations with anyone else who did have criminal conversations with one of those indicted individuals. Since we know that Trump’s children and several other close associates had conversations with some of those 32 individuals, it is almost inevitable that Donald Trump had guilty knowledge of criminal conspiracies being plotted and executed on his behalf.
So, why would Robert Mueller NOT file criminal charges against a sitting president?
Well, Donald Trump — to hear Donald Trump tell it — is the master of the art of the deal. Trump holds the strings that control Mueller’s appointment as a special counsel. If Mueller wants to finish his work, there’s a line that he can’t cross and that line is point where he issues criminal indictments against Donald Trump.
For Trump, the problem is simple. Once Mueller files criminal indictments, the cat is out of the bag and there is no point to dismissing Mueller, although Trump might do it anyway in a fit of pique. Therefore, the point at which Trump needs to dismiss Mueller is before any indictments are issued….but that then rises to the level of an impeachable offense since dismissing Mueller would constitute obstruction of justice. It is obviously already too late for Trump to play that card.
On the other hand, Trump could claim that NOT DISMISSING Mueller might constitute obstruction of Justice because Mueller, in Trump’s opinion, may have exceeded the scope of his authority as a special counsel.
One way or the other, Dershowitz is right about one thing: the Trump melodrama is heading for a remarkable denouement in which the self-proclaimed savior of the American Dream might just find himself looking forward to disgrace and rejection precisely because of his management style rather than any individual act of commission or omission.
Americans have faced the dangers from both real and imagined demagogues. One of the “bad exemplars” in our recent history was Senator “Tail Gunner Joe” McCarthy (R-WI), who tried to base a bid for the presidency on false accusations of communist infiltrations in the State Department. One of the best examples of a “good exemplar” was four-term president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom many (mostly Republican) Americans considered to be a dictatorial president. They said the same thing about Abraham Lincoln, another “good” demagogue, and Andrew Jackson, another “bad” one.
On the other hand, there have been falsely accused demagogues, such as Barry Goldwater, who was unjustly labeled as an unhinged war monger by President Lyndon Baines Johnson during his 1964 re-election campaign. Johnson himself was branded as a vote-stealing (true enough in his earlier campaigns in Texas), bombastic (goes without saying), race traitor demagogue by Southern Democrats who then moved, en masse, from the Democratic to the Republican party after the passage, by Democrats, of the landmark civil rights laws of 1964 and 1968.
As a minority president who was elected by the Electoral College in direct defiance of the expressed will of the people as indicated by the popular vote, Trump has been repudiated by the strong Democratic showing in the House races in the recent election.
While it is expected that the Democratic controlled House will launch their own investigations of Donald Trump’s actions before and after becoming president, it is equally obvious that any attempt to impeach the president will fail in the Senate, where the Democrats are nowhere close to the 67 votes required to convict the president of high crimes and misdemeanors, both of which he has probably committed several times over already.
Ultimately, the final decision about Trump’s presidency will be made in 2020. That’s going to be the make or break year for American democracy and, right now, I will predict that it doesn’t matter who the Republicans nominate for president because 2020 will be a Democratic year...unless the Democrats insist on shooting themselves in both feet by nominating an unelectable candidate (Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamela Harris…or anyone else currently on the long range radar) or proposing an undoable and largely irrelevant platform similar to the one that Hillary Clinton ran behind in 2016.
In other words, Democracy itself, as well as the Democratic party, isn’t out of the woods yet. In a surprising number of cases, many far left liberals (of which I consider myself to be one) actually agree with some of Trump’s actions. It’s Trump’s personality and his so-called management style that we can’t stand, not to mention his many inhumane edicts and orders. More than anything else, Americans LOVE due process. Fiat rule just doesn’t agree with us, nor us with it.
Donald Trump is an entrepreneur, a wheeler-dealer who has never been responsible to a board of directors for his actions because he has always run his businesses as sole proprietorships. He has no patience for democracy. The question is whether democracy has any patience left for Donald Trump.