Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Thursday that President Donald Trump's attacks on the Justice Department "doesn't seem to help" him in the Russia probe.
"I don't know what he thinks he gains by making statements like that," Dershowitz told Anderson Cooper on CNN. "I don't think he picks up support among his followers with these kinds of statements.
"I don't think he increases his legal vulnerability, but he certainly doesn't seem to help his case when he makes statements like this."
In a 30-minute telephone interview with "Fox & Friends" earlier Thursday, Trump slammed the Moscow investigation as a "witch hunt" and hinted he might intervene in the case with the Justice Department.
"Because of the fact that they have this witch hunt going on with people in the Justice Department that shouldn't be there," Trump said. "They have a witch hunt against the president of the United States going on.
"I've taken the position — and I don't have to take this position, and maybe I'll change — that I will not be involved with the Justice Department."
Shortly after Trump's comments, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would provide some legal protection to special counsel Robert Mueller against involvement by the White House.
Dershowitz, who is not representing Trump, said the president "made a vague, general statement intended to convey different points to different people.
"It may have been just musing about whether he has the power to do things with regard to the Justice Department, but he's not going to exercise that power."
Dershowitz has repeatedly said he did not believe the president will fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, though he had the authority to do so as the nation's chief executive.
"I don't approve of what he's saying, but to turn what he's saying into crimes — of course, he threatens," he told Cooper. "That's one thing.
"But he had a right to fire" former FBI Director James Comey," Dershowitz said. "He had a right to fire him to stop the investigation.
"He had a right to fire him because he didn't take an oath of loyalty.
"He had a right to do all of those things," the former professor explained.
"That's a good reason for voting against him, but he has all of those rights under Article II of the Constitution."
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