By Jessica Chasmar
Prominent Harvard law professor and liberal author Alan Dershowitz says Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial meeting last year with a Russian lawyer is likely protected under the First Amendment.
“There’s a big difference between the act of stealing or the act of hacking, and the act of using it,” Mr. Dershowitz told Fox Business host Neil Cavuto in an appearance Wednesday.
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“And there’s really no difference under the First Amendment between a campaigner using the information he obtained from somebody who obtained it illegally and a newspaper doing it,” he continued. “So I think this is conduct that would be covered by the First Amendment. It is also not prohibited by law. And there’s been so much overwrought claim. There are people are talking about treason. I can’t believe The New York Times had an op-ed yesterday in which treason was mentioned.”
Mr. Trump Jr. on Tuesday released an email chain between himself and a British publicist that arranged a June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who, according to the publicist, offered “very high level and sensitive information” about Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s “support” for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The younger Mr. Trump said Tuesday that the meeting turned out to be a waste of time and nothing came of it, but the revelation ramped up allegations from Democratic lawmakers that associates of President Trump may have colluded with the Russian government to influence the U.S. election. Some lawmakers, including Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine, have said it could potentially lead to a treason investigation.
Mr. Dershowitz, however, said he doesn’t “see any crime at this point” in Mr. Trump Jr.’s behavior.
“Even if the worst case scenario as far as we know now, is the Russians get in touch with Trump Jr. and say, ‘we have some dirt on Hillary Clinton, come we’ll give it to you’ and he goes and gets the information. That’s what the New York Times did with the Pentagon Papers, that’s what the Washington Post did and many other newspapers did with information with Snowden and Manning,” he told Newsmax Tuesday. “You are allowed legally to use material that was obtained illegally as long as you had nothing to do with the illegal nature of obtaining the information, so at the moment I see no legal jeopardy for Trump Jr.”