Opinion Dershowitz: Ruling shows I'm right on Trump and corruption

19:25  17 july  2017
19:25  17 july  2017 Source:   The Hill

Spanish police arrest head of Spain FA, Angel Villar, in anti-corruption crackdown

  Spanish police arrest head of Spain FA, Angel Villar, in anti-corruption crackdown The Spanish Civil Guard are investigating crimes of fraud, document forgery, corruption between individuals and misappropriation of funds .Villar was re-elected to his post in May having been president of the RFEF since 1988, 29 years ago.He has overseen the most successful period in Spanish football history, with the national team winning the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.Villar was acting president of UEFA for 11 months when Michel Platini was suspended by FIFA for alleged ethics violations.

Let’s not stretch existing law to fit Donald Trump Donald Trump OPINION | Dershowitz : Ruling shows I ' m right on Trump and corruption Poll: 40 percent approve of Trump 's job performance Juan Williams: Trump 's war on U.S. intelligence MORE, Hillary Clinton, or anyone else.

It shows that Dershowitz is a member of Mar-A-Lago and has been a known trump apologist for some timepic.twitter.com/ju5cH4hxlG. We get it @AlanDersh you support corruption at the federal level. 0 replies 1 retweet 1 like.

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The recent reversal of Sheldon Silver's corruption conviction by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit confirms the point I've been making for months about President Trump: his actions, as controversial as they may be, do not fit the definition of "corruption," as that vague word is used in federal statutes.

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Uh, Dershowitz needs to respect his own limitations. Heart surgeons don't offer opinions on knee replacements. 1 reply 1 retweet 5 likes. Wrong on Trump . 0 replies 0 retweets 3 likes.

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My critics have argued for an extraordinarily broad definition of corruption capable of being expanded to fit nearly everything Trump has done - from firing FBI Director James Comey, to asking him to consider dropping the investigation of General Michael Flynn, to his son's meeting with Russian surrogates.

This is the way the New York Times put it in its story about the court's narrowing the meaning of corruption in the context of federal criminal law: "There was a time when political corruption might have been described - as a former Supreme Court justice once said of pornography - as something you knew when you saw it." In other words, it was in the eye of the beholder rather than in a precise statutory definition.

That dangerous time - dangerous because it substituted the rule of individual prosecutors for the rule of law - came to a gradual end over the past several years as the Supreme Court repeatedly cabined the definition of corruption under federal statutes. It ruled that not all political actions that smell or look like corruption can be prosecuted criminally without Congress specifically making such conduct criminal by precisely worded legislation.

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In fact, Dershowitz notes, Trump could have called in Comey and said, “ I ’ m pardoning Flynn, you are to stop this investigation right now.” Dershowitz certainly doesn’t point to any such authority. It seems to be some special rule he has created only for the office of the presidency.

This salutary approach to defining overbroad words like corruption was applauded by many civil libertarians and liberals, and especially by criminal defense attorneys who had seen up close how expandable terms like corruption could be, and were being abused by ambitious prosecutors determined to add notches to their belts by convicting dishonest politicians.

Now many of these same civil libertarians, liberals and even defense attorneys have forgotten how dangerous those bad old days were, and are demanding that President Trump and his family members should be prosecuted for corruption under the most expansive definition of corruption, despite recent court rulings narrowing that open-ended term.

"Just this one time, please. Just let us get Trump." That is what the fair-weather liberals, civil libertarians, and criminal defense lawyers seem to be saying. "Then, we will return to our principles."

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Famed civil rights attorney Alan Dershowitz said a federal judge's decision Wednesday to halt President Donald Trump 's revised travel ban proved "the whole effort to try to clean it up was futile.".

But that's not the way the law works. There are no exceptions - no "just this one time." The law operates on precedent. Today's exception may become tomorrow's rule. And even if it doesn't, it creates a precedent for more exceptions, which may be applied to our side of the political aisle, as Republicans tried to do with Hillary Clinton.

H.L. Menken understood why it is so important to defend the rights of those you disagree with and not make exceptions for your political enemies: "The trouble about fighting for human freedom is that you have to spend much of your life defending sons of bitches; for oppressive laws are always aimed at them originally, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."

It is, of course, true that by narrowing the criminal law definition of corruption, some dishonest politicians will fall through the cracks. As one former prosecutor put it:  "Prosecutors were concerned from the start that [the Supreme Court's decisions narrowing the definition of corruption] would allow a lot of reprehensible behavior to go unpunished..."

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Instead, Dershowitz told show host Tucker Carlson that Mueller’s appointment will benefit Trump because Mueller is a “very honorable” man who won’t leak information, because the proceedings will happen out of the public eye and because Mueller will find no evidence of a crime.

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Another put it this way: Politicians "will learn the language of corruption. It will still be a bribe, but it will fall outside of anything that is technically illegal ." (Emphasis added.) But there is no such animal as "technically illegal."  Under the rule of law, actions and intentions are either legal or illegal. If they are not specifically prohibited by an existing criminal law, they are legal - not technically legal, but simply legal.

For prosecutors who believe that the recent court decisions "may be the beginning of a parade of horribles," as one former prosecutor put it, there is a democratic remedy: enact legislation that specifically covers the conduct you deem reprehensible and apply it to future cases. That's the way the rule of law is supposed to operate in a democratic society.

So let's have one law for all politicians and citizens. Let's not stretch existing law to fit Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or anyone else. The courts have rightly interpreted corruption narrowly. If prosecutors - including the special counsel investigating the Trump administration - want to broaden that term, let them take their case to Congress, not to a grand jury.

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of " Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law and Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for the Unaroused Voter ." His new book, "Trumped Up! How Criminalizing Politics is Dangerous to Democracy," will be published in August. Follow him on Twitter @AlanDersh or Facebook @AlanMDershowitz .

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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Chuck Blazer, who touched off soccer scandal, dead at 72 .
Chuck Blazer, the disgraced American soccer executive whose admissions of corruption set off a global scandal that ultimately toppled FIFA President Sepp Blatter, has died. He was 72. Blazer's death was announced Wednesday, July 12, 2017, by his lawyers, Eric Corngold and Mary Mulligan. (AP Photo/Bernd Kammerer, File) NEW YORK (AP) Chuck Blazer, the disgraced American soccer executive whose admissions of corruption set off a global scandal that ultimately toppled FIFA President Sepp Blazer's death was announced Wednesday by his lawyers, Eric Corngold and Mary Mulligan.

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