Former Harvard Law School professor and prominent US jurist Alan Dershowitz has filed a $300 million lawsuit against CNN over the cable network’s coverage of his defense of President Donald Trump during the impeachment proceedings.
The libel suit alleges that CNN intentionally misrepresented Dershowitz so as to present him as an “intellectual who had lost his mind,” the lawsuit says.
“The very notion of that was preposterous and foolish on its face, and that was the point: to falsely paint Professor Dershowitz as a constitutional scholar and intellectual who had lost his mind,” the lawsuit reads in part. “With that branding, Professor Dershowitz’s sound and meritorious arguments would then be drowned under a sea of repeated lies.”
In the lawsuit, Dershowitz accuses CNN of creating “a one-sided and false narrative that Professor Dershowitz believes and argued that as long as the President believes his reelection is in the public interest, that he could do anything at all – including illegal acts – and be immune from impeachment.”
The veteran jurist accuses CNN of editing footage of him speaking during the impeachment proceedings, when on January 29th, while speaking at the US Senate, Dershowitz responded to Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s question whether it matters for the purposes of impeachment if there was a quid pro quo arrangement.
Dershowitz responded that the president’s action would have to be illegal in and of itself for a quo pro quo arrangement to violate the law.
“The only thing that would make a quid pro quo unlawful is if the quo were in some way illegal,” Dershowitz said in response. “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”
But, Dershowitz claims in his suit, CNN editing the video of his comments, limiting the clips to the last sentence of his response, giving the impression that claimed it is legal for a president to do anything which he feels will improve his chances of getting reelected.
On the basis of the CNN clip, Dershowitz was later excoriated on air, and denounced as “bonkers” in an opinion piece by CNN commentator Paul Begala.
The lawsuit does noted, however, that CNN hosts Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper released the full January 29th quote.