By Jan Jekielek and Bill Pan
There isn’t anything for former President Donald Trump to worry about with a potential lawsuit coming from a Georgia district attorney, although he might have more serious trouble with some of his other cases, said Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Speaking to EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program on May 8, Dershowitz was asked about the $250 million civil fraud lawsuit brought by New York’s Democrat Attorney General Letitia James, who accuses Trump and three of his children of overvaluing the family’s real estate assets by billions of dollars. This case, according to Dershowitz, will likely be resolved by settlement.
“That’s a civil case and it will be resolved civilly, probably by some kind of a settlement.” he told host Jan Jekielek. “I don’t think Trump has anything to worry about with that, except time.”
The interview will premiere on Saturday May 13 on EpochTV.
Trump doesn’t have to worry about the investigations launched in Georgia and Washington either, Dershowitz said.
One case is being pursued from Georgia’s Fulton County, where District Attorney Fani Willis has been investigating whether Trump and his associates illegally meddled the 2020 presidential election. Willis, a Democrat, announced last month that she plans to formally unveil the charging decisions between July 11 and Sept. 1.
“There’s no way he can be prosecuted successfully there,” Dershowitz said of the Fulton County investigation, referring to a conversation between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, on Jan. 2, 2021. “What he said on the recorded tape was, ‘I need to FIND 11,000 votes.’ He didn’t say ‘invent’ or ‘concoct.’”
“He said ‘find,’ which means that they’re there, and you just have to look hard to see if you can find them,” the law professor continued. “I think that’s a complete defense there.”
Dershowitz told Jakielek that the same logic can be applied to a potential DOJ lawsuit against Trump over his role in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The Justice Department has been conducting a sprawling investigation into Trump’s actions around the events of Jan. 6. Attorney General Merrick Garland has since left open the possibility that Trump could be prosecuted in connection with “inciting” what Democrats on the House Jan. 6 Committee claimed was an “insurrection.”
“There’s a complete defense to the Jan. 6 investigation that’s occurring in Washington. Because in his speech, he said explicitly that he wanted the people to go to the Capitol, to exercise their First Amendment right, to protest ‘peacefully and patriotically,” Dershowitz explained. “That’s a perfectly constitutionally protected speech.”
With that said, Trump might still find himself vulnerable in his home state of New York, where he faces an unfriendly jury eager to convict, according to Dershowitz.
“In New York, you can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich; and in Manhattan, you can probably get a petty jury to convict a ham sandwich if its name is Donald Trump,” Dershowitz said. “So he’s at risk there. But I think that case will be reversed on appeal if there is a conviction.”
Trump did complain about the Manhattan jurors who indicted him of 34 counts of falsifying business records, saying that they come from a “very unfair venue” where people overwhelmingly vote for Democrats in elections.
“This case should be moved to nearby Staten Island—would be a very fair and secure location for the trial,” the former president posted on Truth Social. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The “greatest vulnerability” lies in the Mar-a-Lago case, which involves dozens of classified documents Trump allegedly took to his private home from the White House after his first term ended, Dershowitz said. He added that the risk is not about the documents themselves, but has to do with Trump’s response to the FBI search.
“I think his greatest vulnerability now may lie in the Mara Lago case in Florida; not for possessing classified material but if they can prove that he obstructed justice after he received a subpoena and after he was aware that the government was interested,” the professor said. “If there is proof that he moved, or ordered removing or hiding of classified material, that would present a serious problem for him.”
When asked about columnist E. Jean Carroll’s civil battery and defamation lawsuits against Trump, Dershowitz said cases like these “never should have been allowed to be brought,” as they’re way beyond the statute of limitations and only serve the purpose to disrupt Trump’s 2024 campaign.
“It’s a case that normally would be thrown out. But again, it’s Donald Trump,” he said. “It’s not criminal. He would have to pay some money and go through the appellate process, which would take several years. So it’s the piling on.”
“It’s the fact that we have all these cases coming together at a time when he’s trying to get the Republican nomination for president,” he continued, adding that he believes that such disruptions would help Trump in the Republican primary, but not in the general election.
“I think they hurt him in the general election. I think that independent voters will look at some of these charges and say, ‘Gee, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.’
“But of course, where there’s smoke, sometimes there’s arson. A lot of these fires have been set politically in order to get Trump.”
As the first Republican to announce a 2024 White House bid, Trump remains the leader in the still-forming presidential field in almost all polls. In a potential Trump-President Joe Biden matchup, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that some 44 percent of respondents said they would “probably” or “definitely” vote for Trump, while only 38 percent said the same thing for Biden. Some 12 percent are undecided, the survey revealed.
“When the undecideds are asked how they lean, it’s 49-42 percent, Trump-Biden,” an accompanying ABC News article stated.
“Notably, among those who say Trump should face criminal charges in the investigations into whether he illegally tried to overturn the 2020 election results, 18 percent are inclined to vote for him over Biden anyway,” ABC noted, citing the poll. “Seventy-one percent in this group take Biden.”
Biden also trails Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not officially declared his 2024 candidacy. The ABC poll found that some 42 percent said they would definitely or probably vote for DeSantis, while 37 percent said they would vote for Biden, and 21 percent were undecided.