Dershowitz to MSNBC panel: Stop making McCarthyite claims of me being a Trump defender

Things got a mite testy yesterday when Alan Dershowitz paid a visit to MSNBC’s Kasie DC to discuss the latest developments in the Michael Cohen case. Former US Attorney Mimi Rocah starts off her analysis by ripping Dershowitz as a “Trump team” surrogate. That in turn got Dershowitz angry enough to accuse Rocah of McCarthyism, leaving Hunt in the middle — visually as well as figuratively (via Mediaite):

“First of all, it’s remarkable Mr. Dershowitz’s initial argument now, how far we’ve come,” Rocah began. “Originally Trump’s defense was there was no meeting. Then it was there was a meeting but they only talked about adoptions. Then it was Trump didn’t know about the meeting. Now, it appears we’ve gotten to the point where Trump may know about it about but no crime was committed. I think that that in and of itself, the sort of path of this defense by Trump’s team is telling, but I also think we can’t look at this meeting in isolation. It is very significant, if true, that he knew about the meeting. And that doesn’t mean that a crime begins and ends there. You have to look at everything that came before it and everything that came after it.”

Dershowitz was not amused.

“You are implying in a kind of Mccarthyite way that I am somehow defending Trump and that I am making his case. Shame on you,” Dershowitz scolded.

He added: “I am making a civil liberties case. I am not part of the Trump defense team and don’t you dare accuse me of doing that. I am not making a case for anybody. I would be making the identical case if Hillary Clinton had been elected and they were trying to stretch the law the way all four of you are trying to stretch the law to target somebody who you disapprove of.”

Is Rocah’s accusation unfair? Yes, but it’s not McCarthyite unfair. Dershowitz has spent a lot of time on Fox News poking holes in public speculation arising from the special-counsel case and Donald Trump. He’s been on other platforms less friendly to Trump too, including MSNBC, but one has to wonder how many invitations he might get from the Lean Forward channel in the future. Dershowitz has never been on Trump’s team, and he reminds anyone who asks that he voted for Hillary Clinton, but it’s not exactly unthinkable to call him a Trump defender these days.

Even so, it’s still unfair, because this is nothing more than Dersh being Dersh. He’s a contrarian at heart, as well as a defense attorney by profession. Unsurprisingly for that combination, he’s fiercely suspicious of government power especially in the context of prosecutions. That point is probably not lost on Rocah either, which might explain her hostility to Dershowitz and her insistence on interrupting him throughout the second half of this clip.

Nothing much gets settled in this clip, of course, but what does get settled on talking-head shows in the Crossfire model? The big takeaway here is that Dershowitz appears exasperated with his image as a Trump defender, and that Hunt seems incapable of getting the discussion back onto its subject.

In a way, this is a microcosm of all political arguments these days, which end up boiling down almost immediately to which side of Trump you happen to be on at any moment. Nothing else matters except Trump — not policy, not the nuances of the law, nor even intellectual consistency. It’s Trump TV on every channel, every day, all the time.

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