Administration

Dershowitz made use of Trump access to help secure pardons and clemency for clients

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz was involved in at least a dozen successful campaigns for clemency for various figures throughout the Trump administration, putting his personal connections to the White House to use on his clients’ behalf, The New York Times first reported.

An investigation from the newspaper published Monday revealed Dershowitz, an opinion contributor for The Hill, to have been personally involved in a number of campaigns for pardons or commutations of sentences ranging from inmates on death row to high-profile figures such as George Nader, an adviser to former President Trump’s White House transition team who was convicted as part of the Russia special counsel investigation.

Dershowitz confirmed his efforts on behalf of a number of people in an interview with The Hill on Monday evening, saying that the “vast majority” of the cases were pro bono efforts to free people who had refused to plead guilty in their trials.

“I am very proud that I was able to use my contacts with the president to try to save lives and bring people home to their families. I wish I had succeeded more,” he said.

Included among the clients represented personally by Dershowitz were Irving Stitsky and Mark Shapiro, who both had 85-year real estate fraud sentences commuted by the president in January. He also lobbied the administration unofficially on behalf of others who saw their sentences commuted, including conservative commentators Dinesh D’Souza and I. Lewis Libby Jr., as well as former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

“The idea that I would ever, ever ingratiate myself to a president in order to be able to advertise myself as a person that could get commutations is just totally false and defamatory,” Dershowitz added in a statement to the Times.

“Of course I’m not surprised that people would call me because they thought that the president thought well of me,” he continued to the Times. “If somebody is seeking a pardon from [former President Bill] Clinton, you’re not going to go to somebody who is a friend of Jerry Falwell. You’re going to go to somebody who is a Democrat. That’s the way the system works.”

Dershowitz also lobbied the White House on behalf of Brandon Bernard, a federal inmate who was executed in December, and Lisa Montgomery, the first woman to be executed in the U.S. in more than 50 years.

He told The Hill on Monday that his efforts to secure a commutation of Bernard’s sentence resulted in his first call to the president directly, noting that all other times the president had called him. Dershowitz said he and Ken Starr, who worked on the Clinton impeachment proceedings together, ultimately failed to convince the president to commute Bernard’s sentence after a 35-minute call.

The Harvard law professor repeatedly defended Trump publicly during his administration, including during his first impeachment trial at the beginning of last year, and stated that he would defend Trump in the “court of public opinion” regarding his second trial, which is set to begin Tuesday, but is not actively involved in the former president’s impeachment defense.

Tags Alan Dershowitz Donald Trump

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