Dershowitz on Cohen Wiretap: ‘We Are Moving Closer and Closer to the Surveillance State’

Thursday on MSNBC, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz stated that President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen being wiretapped by federal investigators meant America was “moving closer and closer to the surveillance state.”

Dershowitz said, “I think we are moving closer and closer to the surveillance state where phone calls are tapped, where emails are secured without a real basis. I think prosecutors should not be seeking wiretaps on lawyers’ offices and search warrants and subpoenas for lawyers’ email files unless they have very substantial evidence of very serious crimes—campaign contributions don’t qualify for the kind of crime that should justify the wiretapping of a lawyer. Remember that when you wiretap a lawyer, you are wiretapping his clients and you wiretapping conversations between a lawyer and the client and you are searching for emails. Where is the American Civil Liberties Union on this? Where are civil libertarians? We live in such a partisan atmosphere, get Trump at any cost that we are prepared to give up our basic civil liberties in exchange for getting Trump.”

He continued, “These rules are only as good as the people who enforce them and only as good as the motives of the people who are behind them. And I have to tell you. I do not trust the government. I do not trust judges. I do not trust prosecutors when they are zealously seeking to go after a particular target, in this case, Donald Trump. Nobody would have been going after Michael Cohen if he weren’t Donald Trump’s lawyer. That’s the reality. People don’t investigate campaign contribution lapses or campaign law violations generally about people who aren’t in the public life. And I just worry that when you have somebody with a target on his or her back, whether it is Hillary Clinton, who could have been elected and the same thing would have been happening to her, or Donald Trump, that civil libertarians ought to express concern. That’s all I’m doing is expressing concern and distrust of government. I don’t want to live in the surveillance state, and I want to do everything in my power, no matter who the target is, to prevent this from occurring.”

He added, “It is so easy to get a warrant. It is so easy to persuade a judge to give you a wiretap warrant. That simply doesn’t protect American citizens. And any civil libertarian who was exposed to what’s going on here today—if Hillary Clinton were the subject—would be taking exactly the opposite position. There is so much hypocrisy, partisan hypocrisy out there. I don’t mind if conservatives take the view we ought to trust government, or former prosecutors take the view we ought to trust government. My gripe is against civil libertarians, and criminal defense lawyers are always on the side of challenging the government. The ACLU has suddenly lost its way and forgotten what they’ve preached for 50 years because it is Donald Trump they’re after. We’re on the road to losing our civil liberties when you allow our civil liberties to be compromised because you are going after one particular person.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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