Harvard Law professor and attorney Alan Dershowitz pushed back on claims by former Attorney General Bill Barr that free speech isn’t on trial in former President Trump’s election fraud case, calling the suggestion “dead wrong.”
“I like Bill Barr, he’s a good man, but I think he’s just dead wrong about that. Of course this is a free speech case,” Dershowitz said in a Fox Radio interview Friday. “Everything involves his exercise of free speech.”
“Not just his First Amendment free speech but also his First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” he added.
Barr said Friday in a CNN interview that free speech arguments distract from the core of the case — Trump’s actions.
“He can say whatever he wants. He can even lie. He can even tell people that the election was stolen, when he knew better,” Barr said.
Dershowitz, who represented Trump in his first impeachment trial in 2020, said the cases against the former president are wrong on their face, as they could impact the upcoming presidential election.
“The leading candidate against the incumbent president should never be prosecuted by the attorney general of the president unless the case against him is overwhelming and beyond any dispute,” he said. “The Nixon standard is what I call it.”
But, the cases against Trump have not met that standard, Dershowitz said, except “maybe” his second federal indictment alleging he mishandled classified documents.
Dershowitz blasted the recent indictment from Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith alleging that Trump attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“The indictment is based on lies. The indictment itself contains a blatant lie by Jack Smith,” he said.
The indictment contains “lies of omission,” he argued, alleging that Smith did not tell the full story on Trump’s comments before the Jan. 6, 2021, riot on the Capitol.
Dershowitz claimed in the interview that Smith himself could be charged with crimes for pursuing the case against Trump, because the charges are denying the former president his rights.
At the end of the day, the cases are about speech, Dershowitz claimed.
“We have two presidents in our history, of all our presidents only two, who have been called honest. Honest Abe and Washington and the cherry tree. Does that mean every other president has been dishonest? Probably,” he said. “Probably every single one of them has told a fib to get elected or to stay in office, and we don’t punish. We don’t criminalize political lies.”
Dershowitz, who said he did not vote for Trump previously and will not in the future, also defended President Biden from recent calls for his impeachment.
“Biden may have done some wrong things but he hasn’t committed any impeachable offenses at least up to now,” he said.