Alan Dershowitz Sues CNN for $300 Million, Alleging Defamation

September 16, 2020 Updated: September 16, 2020

Former law professor Alan Dershowitz sued CNN for $300 million on Sept. 15, alleging the cable news network defamed him.

Dershowitz’s lawsuit claims CNN left out a crucial portion of public comments it reported on in January.

The conduct is in direct violation of the law and falls outside First Amendment protection, the suit argues.

Dershowitz testified before the Senate on Jan. 27 during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump. The president was impeached by the House of Representatives, which said he solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to interfere in the 2020 election by pushing Ukrainian officials to announce a probe into Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Trump was ultimately acquitted by the Senate.

Dershowitz argued that the only way a quid pro quo would be unlawful “is if the quo were somehow illegal.”

“There are three possible motives that a political figure could have,” he said. “One, a motive in the public interest, and the Israel argument would be in the public interest. The second is in his own political interest, and the third, which hasn’t been mentioned, would be his own financial interest, his own pure financial interest, just putting money in the bank.

“I want to focus on the second one for just one moment. Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest and, mostly you are right, your election is in the public interest, and 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.”

jeff zucker
Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, poses for a photograph in New York on Dec. 8, 2019. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)

The lawsuit says Dershowitz expressly stated a president could be removed from office if what he did was illegal.

But during CNN programming throughout the day, crucial portions of the video were left out, making it seem as if Dershowitz was arguing that a president could do anything, even something illegal, as long as he believed his reelection was in the public interest, according to the lawsuit.

“With that portion of Professor Dershowitz’s words played without his words that preceded that sentence, it was an easy sell to CNN’s viewers that the respected Alan Dershowitz believed that the president of the United States could commit illegal acts as long as he thought it would help his reelection and that his reelection was in the public interest, even though it was the opposite of what he said,” it stated.

CNN didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Dershowitz is seeking a trial by jury.

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