Alan Dershowitz Says Pardons Can't Constitute Obstruction of Justice

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Alan Dershowitz took a break from fuming about his fake friends on Martha’s Vineyard to go on ABC today and argue that the president should do whatever he wants, for whatever reason he wants, without facing the consequences or anyone questioning it.

Speaking with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week this morning, Dershowitz was asked if Special Counsel Robert Mueller could make a case for obstruction of justice without interviewing Donald Trump, which Dershowitz said would be a “perjury trap” for Trump. (Wonder why!)


“I think where we [himself and fellow panelist Asha Rangappa] respectfully disagree is a president...cannot be charged with obstruction of justice for merely exercising his power under Article II,” Dershowitz said, referring to Trump’s presidential pardon powers and doing his very best Nixon impression.


“But question was what was going on his mind, does he have corrupt intent,” Stephanopoulos started.

“You cannot question a president’s motives when the president acts,” Dershowitz said. “If a president pardons, that’s it. If a president fires, that’s it. You can’t go beyond the act and get into his motive or intent.”

“What if the president is pardoning someone to cover up a murder?” Stephanopoulos asked incredulously. “It doesn’t matter. Pardon is the pardon,” Dershowitz responded, as if it’s clear as day that the Constitution allows the president to literally get away with murder.

Dershowitz is effectively arguing that the Constitution mandates that the presidency should have something tantamount to autocratic powers. If he were right—and as Rangappa and a parade of legal experts argued, he is not—that’s a massive flaw in the Constitution, not just the way things should be done.


“He also has the duty to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed,” Rangappa, a CNN analyst and Yale lecturer, said. “So in many ways, obstruction of justice is almost implicit in the constitution as well to make sure that investigations don’t get thwarted for nefarious ends.”

“You can’t start probing the motives of presidents, all presidents have mixed motives all the time,” Dershowitz replied. “When you start probing the motives of a president who has acted properly under the constitution, you’re really going down a very, very dangerous, slippery slope.”


The slippery slope would be powerful people actually facing accountability, legal or social, for whatever crimes they’ve committed. We certainly can’t have that—on Martha’s Vineyard or anywhere else.