Tags: alan dershowitz | executive privilege | steve bannon | attorney | testimony

Dershowitz: 'Reasonable' for Bannon's Attorney to Call WH During Hearing

Dershowitz: 'Reasonable' for Bannon's Attorney to Call WH During Hearing
Steve Bannon (AP)

By    |   Thursday, 18 January 2018 12:03 PM

It was "reasonable" for former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's attorney to contact the White House concerning the scope of executive privilege in connection with his testimony earlier this week, famed attorney Alan Dershowitz said Thursday.

"It seems perfectly reasonable, in light of the fact he is claiming executive privilege," Dershowitz, Harvard Law Professor emeritus, told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" co-host Bill Hemmer.

"It doesn't belong to Bannon, it belongs to the executive, the president of the United States, and so it seems entirely reasonable for Bannon or his lawyer to be checking with the White House counsel as to the scope of executive privilege and getting advice as to what the White House will defend."

And if the White House won't defend Bannon's claim to executive privilege, Dershowitz continued, he should not be raising that defense.

Meanwhile, Dershowitz said there is "no legal issue" behind Bannon's refusal to answer questions about President Donald Trump's transition period, but instead, "it's a political issue."

When one is testifying before Congress, it's the lawmakers who determine if questions must be answered, he continued.

"If they think you're in contempt, they can seek to have you held in contempt, but a Republican-controlled Congress won't hold Bannon in contempt," Dershowitz explained.

However, executive privilege does not apply to a presidential campaign, but what happens in the Oval Office, he said.

"What we're seeing is kind of political shuffling back and forth, with no clear legal determination," said Dershowitz. "It's very different than the grand jury, where he has the legal determination to answer all questions, subject to privilege."

Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Bannon for an interview, but not before a grand jury.

"The difference is that if you're in front of a grand jury, you don't have your lawyer present," Dershowitz said. "There are no restrictions on what you can be asked. There are no time limits. And the only privilege you can really invoke in front of a grand jury is your privilege against self-incrimination. Nobody wants to do that if they're in public life."

An interview, though, is less formal, and an attorney can be present to negotiate what the subject matter and time limits will be.

"That is the way it will end up with the president as well," Dershowitz said. "He will have an interview with his counsel present, but in the end Mueller has the ultimate authority to subpoena anybody, including the president of the United States, in front of the grand jury. Everybody must comply with a grand jury subpoena and you can only refuse to answer questions that might tend to incriminate."

Dershowitz also pointed out that when it comes to whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia, "collusion is not a crime."

"We shouldn't be seeing investigations by prosecutors of collusion," said Dershowitz. "It might be a political sin, but [there is] nothing in the federal law that prohibits collusion unless it includes a crime."

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It was "reasonable" for former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's attorney to contact the White House concerning the scope of executive privilege in connection with his testimony earlier this week, famed attorney Alan Dershowitz said Thursday.
alan dershowitz, executive privilege, steve bannon, attorney, testimony
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2018-03-18
Thursday, 18 January 2018 12:03 PM
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