Alan Dershowitz Issues Warning on Chances of a Trump Acquittal in Manhattan
Alan Dershowitz Issues Warning on Chances of a Trump Acquittal in Manhattan

By Jack Phillips

Retired Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz warned Wednesday that former President Donald Trump may not get acquitted in New York City amidst Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against him.

“There’s no way he can get a fair trial,” he told Fox News. “I don’t care if Jesus, Muhammad, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Thurgood Marshall defended Trump in New York, he wouldn’t win this case. Hung jury? Maybe. Acquittal? Never.”

Dershowitz, a famed defense attorney who helped represent O.J. Simpson and Jim Bakker, said that a potential Manhattan juror would not “want to walk around town and have people say, ‘That’s the juror who freed Donald Trump and allowed him to be president.’”

“It reminds me of when I was a civil rights person in the South … even if you didn’t spit on the sidewalk, if the sheriff said you spit on the sidewalk and charged you with it, there’s no chance you could get acquitted by an all-White Jim Crow jury,” he elaborated. “Everybody knew that. You were innocent, but everyone knew you were going to be convicted.”

As for transferring the case to another venue—Staten Island, for example—Dershowitz said that it appears unlikely to happen. He noted that judges in New York state are elected, although the judge in Trump’s case, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan, was appointed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Any decent judge would change the venue immediately, but this judge won’t do that,” Dershowitz said. “Any decent judge would throw the case out on the statute of limitations. This judge won’t do it. He doesn’t want to ruin his career.”

Earlier this week, Trump floated the idea of having his case transferred to Staten Island, where he would most certainly face a more friendly jury pool. More than 57 percent of voters in the borough voted for Trump, while about 42 percent voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, whereas only about 10 percent voted for Trump in Manhattan at the time.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump is accompanied by members of his legal team, Susan Necheles and Joe Tacopina, as he appears in court for an arraignment on charges stemming from his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury, in New York City on April 4, 2023. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

“Federal judges are more likely to rule in his favor because they have lifetime appointments,” Dershowitz explained. “I don’t think a state court judge has the courage. I don’t think state court jurors have the courage to acquit him.”

The former president was charged in Manhattan with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection to payments that he made to adult actress Stormy Daniels and former model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied those allegations, and his legal team has promised he would file motions to dismiss the case.

“The defendant, Donald J. Trump, falsified New York business records in order to conceal an illegal conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the 2016 presidential election and other violations of election laws,” said Assistant District Attorney Christopher Conroy on Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s arraignment, Judge Merchan didn’t impose a gag order. But he told Trump’s lawyers to call on him to refrain from social media posts that could encourage unrest, although he didn’t elaborate.

He also set the next in-person court hearing for Dec. 4, 2023. That date is about a month and a half before the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses are scheduled to start on Jan. 22, 2024.

After he returned to his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, Trump said he is innocent and being targeted for political purposes. Even some of his critics admitted during television interviews that Bragg’s case against Trump appears to be flawed.

“I never thought anything like this could happen in America,” Trump, a leading GOP candidate in the 2024 election, remarked of the New York City indictment. “This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election and it should be dropped immediately.”

A conviction would not prevent Trump from running or winning the presidency in 2024, Dershowitz and others have noted. The U.S. Constitution only bars people who are not natural-born citizens, those who haven’t lived in the United States for at least 14 years, and those under the age of 35 from running for president, and there is no mention of felony convictions.

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