Toobin and Dershowitz Renew Their Fierce Battle in Trump Obstruction Debate: ‘Alan, You’re Making That Up!’
It’s the Battle of the Lawyers: Alan Dershowitz vs. Jeffrey Toobin. The subject: The constitutional legality of a president having the unbridled authority to tell the attorney general what to investigate. The venue: Anderson Cooper 360. Let’s get ready to aaaaaarrrrrggggguuuueeee!
Dershowitz opened by saying that President Donald Trump‘s firing of James Comey was not an obstruction of justice because he has the authority to do so.
“I don’t think it’s not a crime because the president does have the authority under a unitary executive theory to tell his attorney general, I want you to investigate this but not that,” he said. “That should change. That’s not okay. But it is not illegal today under the law.”
“It sure is,” Toobin replied. “This is a fundamental disagreement that Alan and I have. If the president fires the FBI director to stop him from investigating the president himself, that is a corrupt motive. That is the definition of obstruction of justice.”
“So you’re saying the intent matters,” Anderson Cooper clarified.
“The intent is the whole story,” Toobin said.
“You never can have a crime where the intent is the whole thing,” Dershowitz countered. “You have to have an illegal act, and you can’t have an illegal act when the president acts within his constitutional authority.”
“But Alan, you’re making that up!” Toobin protested. Dershowitz ignored him.
“Metaphysically, you can’t have an act that is both constitutionally authorized under… Article II, and at the same time is criminal.”
“It would undercut the power of the president to start questioning why he pardoned, why he fired,” Dershowitz continued. “Once he did it and it’s within his authority, you can’t question him.”
“There are laws full of examples of acts that are otherwise legal, but made illegal by the intent,” Toobin replied.
“Not by presidents,” Dershowitz said, interjecting.
“You have said this, that the president has an unfettered ability to act, but what’s the authority for that?” Toobin asked. “This unitary theory? That’s a controversial theory that not everybody agrees with.”
Watch above, via CNN.
[image via screengrab]
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