OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz believes that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could be disbarred for his case against former President Donald Trump.
Dershowitz told DW’s Tim Sebastian that while he does not support Trump politically, he does believe the indictment brought by Bragg against the former Trump is “absurd and politically motivated.” Dershowitz argued that Trump will not get a “fair trial in Manhattan” given the judges and prosecutors are elected, meaning those in New York all likely lean to the Left politically.
Dershowitz went on to argue that things could potentially get difficult for Bragg if he uses former Trump attorney Michael Cohen as a witness at the trial, which is scheduled to begin in December.
“I don’t think an indictment can actually come forward now after the comments made by [Robert] Costello,” the attorney said.
He said that “he has proved that the main witness is going to be a perjuring liar on the witness stand, and that puts the district attorney in a terrible position.”
“If he uses Cohen as a witness, he could actually lose his bar license. It’s unethical to put a witness on the stand who you know is lying, and he has to know that Cohen will be lying. Or he tries the case without Cohen, which would be very difficult, or he does the right thing: he drops the case,” Dershowitz said.
Dershowitz made a similar argument late last month.
During an appearance on Fox News, Dershowitz argued that Bragg could face up to five years in prison if he is found guilty of leaking details of Trump’s indictment to the media.
Leaking grand jury testimony to the public is a Class E felony in New York and carries a prison sentence between one and five years.
Dershowitz also spoke about how having Michael Cohen as a witness could damage the district attorney.
“I don’t think an indictment can actually come forward now after the comments made by [Robert] Costello. He has proved that the main witness is going to be a perjuring liar on the witness stand, and that puts the district attorney in a terrible position,” Dershowitz said.
“If he uses Cohen as a witness, he could actually lose his bar license. It’s unethical to put a witness on the stand who you know is lying, and he has to know that Cohen will be lying. Or he tries the case without Cohen, which would be very difficult, or he does the right thing: he drops the case,” he added.
Dershowitz also wrote in an op-ed that whoever leaked the sealed indictment is the person guilty of the only felony, in his opinion, in this case.
“It is likely that a serious felony has been committed right under District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s nose and he is not investigating it. Under New York law, it is a felony to leak confidential grand jury information, such as whether the jurors voted to indict. The protection of secrecy is as applicable to President Trump as it is to anyone else,” Dershowitz said in an op-ed for The New York Sun.
“We know that the information was disclosed while the indictment itself remains sealed and before any official announcement was made or charges brought. It is unlikely that the leak came from the Trump team, which seemed genuinely surprised,” Dershowitz said.
“The most likely, though uncertain, scenario is that a person in Mr. Bragg’s office or a grand juror unlawfully leaked the sealed information. That would be a class E felony, subject to imprisonment. It is possible of course that an investigation is underway, but it seems more likely that Mr. Bragg is too busy making up a crime against the man he promised in his campaign to get than investigating a real crime that took place on his watch,” Dershowitz added.
Dershowitz said that it appears Bragg’s theory is that Trump should have disclosed why he paid for a non-disclosure agreement to adult film star Stormy Daniels, which would defeat the purpose of the non-disclosure agreement.
“Why would Mr. Trump pay the money in the first place if he had to publicly disclose the embarrassing reason? Furthermore, no one in history has ever been indicted for listing ‘legal expenses’ for setting a potentially embarrassing payment of hush money,” he said.
“Thus, even the misdemeanor allegation involving false entries is unprecedented and represents selective prosecution. It is also almost certainly barred by the two-year statute of limitations. In order to elevate this bookkeeping case into a felony, Mr. Bragg must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the reason Trump made the false entry — if he himself did it — was solely as a campaign contribution to help him win his election,” he said.
“If somebody on the grand jury, prosecutor or grand juror, leaked the fact that there was a vote to indict, that is a one – five-year class E felony under New York,” Dershowitz said. “Bragg now has a prima facia case that a crime has been committed right in his building, but as far as I know he’s not investigating it.”