Alan Dershowitz is a liberal, of the increasingly rare sort, who have principles that transcend their immediate political and policy urgencies. He’s not among those who have fallen, willy nilly, into the my-unassailable-ends-justify-any-means paradigm that governs most liberals today.
Now, I generaly don’t agree with his principles, but Dershowitz has principles. If he had ever made it to the Supreme Court, he wouldn’t have been an Elena Kagan or a Sonia Sotomoyer justice. He would instead have been one who occassionally said, No, the law or the Constitution forbid me from ruling the way I’d prefer to, and so I won’t, because there are higher authorities than me.
One of Dershowitz’s principles with which I do agree with is the idea — again, increasingly rare on the Left — that sometimes brings the ACLU and conservatives together. The notion that civil liberties matter, and that freedom is a principle worth preserving even when it gets in the way of other imperatives.
That’s what Dershowitz was working off of last night on Anderson Cooper 360, when he objected to the appointment of a special prosecutor on the grounds that there is no evidence, or even a suggestion, of a crime, and so why are we bringing in the police to go find one?
“Show me the criminal statute,” he said. “I still sit here as a civil libertarian. I don’t want us ever to become what Stalinist Russia became when Stalin was told by Lavrentiy Beria, ‘Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.’ What is the crime?”
This could help Trump, Dershowitz suggested, because a special prosecutor could move the probe down a path to nowhere, since what the campaign is accused of is not even criminal.
Trump “will be the beneficiary of the special prosecutor,” Dershowitz thinks. “A special prosecutor is supposed to investigate a crime and most of the things that have been leveled at the Trump administration are not criminal acts. Collaborating with the Russians to get yourself elected — not a criminal act. Terrible, morally wrong, but not criminal. The same thing is true with the leaking of the information to the Russians.”
But I think Dershowitz underestimates the gravity of the situation for Trump. That’s why the Constitution proscribes unjustified search and seizure. Because once the police are rummaging through your stuff, they’re liable to find anything.
Here’s the video from YouTube, put up by someone who obviously disagrees.