Alan Dershowitz, one of President Trump‘s attorneys in the Senate impeachment trial, accused CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and the network’s chief legal analyst, Jeffery Toobin, of acting like “bullies” during an interview on “AC360” Monday night.
The exchange came after Cooper accused Dershowitz of contradicting himself regarding his statements on impeachment during then-President Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1998, which the lawyer also opposed.
“I want to go back. Previously, you said it doesn’t have to be a crime if the person in office completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and poses as great danger to our liberty, that is impeachable. Now you’re saying criminal-like [behavior],” Cooper said to Dershowitz. “So corrupting the office of the president, is that … criminal-like behavior?”
“No, it’s not,” Dershowitz responded. “And that was rejected by the Framers.”
“So, you were wrong back then?” Cooper followed up.
“I was saying that I’m much more correct right now, having done much more research,” Dershowitz replied.
“Much more correct? What does that mean?” Cooper asked.
“Let me explain. Please don’t shut me off. Two against one here. Let me make my point,” Dershowitz said.
“I didn’t do research back then,” Dershowitz added as Toobin, his former student at Harvard Law, laughed
“OK, so you were wrong,” Cooper reiterated.
“Please let me finish,” Dershowitz shot back. “Because that issue was not presented in the Clinton impeachment. Everybody knew that he was charged with a crime. The issue is whether it was a hard crime. Now the issue is whether a crime or criminal-like behavior is required. I’ve done all the research.”
“So you didn’t do the research back then. Got it,” Cooper cracked.
“I didn’t do the research back then, because that wasn’t an issue,” Dershowitz said again, and Cooper also began chuckling. “I’ve done the research now. I wasn’t wrong. I am just far more correct now than I was then. I said you didn’t need a technical crime back then.”
“And I think your viewers are entitled to hear my argument without two bullies jumping on everything I say, trying to pinpoint and nitpick on what I said. Let’s talk what the issues are instead of trying to attack the messenger,” Dershowitz added.
“I don’t think anybody’s attacking the messenger,” Cooper said. “I think, rationally, look, I’m not a lawyer nor have I studied law and I didn’t go to Harvard, but what you’re saying, the words you are speaking do not jibe with what you said in the past, and yet you’re not saying what you said in the past is wrong.”
The back-and-forth on CNN came after Dershowitz had not been booked on the network for many months. He earlier had appeared regularly on CNN over the years.
Dershowitz, 81, told Fox News last year that he thought he had been banned from appearing on CNN “because they want a one-sided presentation” in analyzing former special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia investigation.
“I have been right from day one, and almost all the other pundits and professors have just been dead wrong,” Dershowitz told “The Story” anchor Martha MacCallum in Feb. 2019.
“CNN wouldn’t have me on the air because they want a one-sided presentation, and everybody who watches CNN was shocked by the conclusions,” Dershowitz, who is an opinion contributor for The Hill, added. “No one who watches me was shocked.”
The president’s Senate trial begins on Tuesday.