Dershowitz says he gave Trump advice on Middle East policy

Dershowitz says he gave Trump advice on Middle East policy

Harvard Law professor dines with US president amid speculation he could join legal team in Mueller probe

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Alan Dershowitz at NEP Studios in New York, February 3, 2016. (John Lamparski/Getty Images for Hulu, via JTA)
Alan Dershowitz at NEP Studios in New York, February 3, 2016. (John Lamparski/Getty Images for Hulu, via JTA)

WASHINGTON — Alan Dershowitz met with US President Donald Trump for dinner Tuesday night to give him advice on Middle East policy, the Harvard Law School professor told The Washington Post and Slate.

In recent months, rumors have swirled that Trump either has sought or would seek to employ the former trial lawyer on his legal team.

As a columnist and frequent guest on CNN and Fox News, Dershowitz has been one of the US president’s most high-profile defenders as Special Counsel Robert Mueller ramps up his probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The White House meeting came one day after FBI agents raided the office and residence of Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, searching for documents related to Stephanie Clifford, also known as porn actress Stormy Daniels, who Cohen paid $130,000 on Trump’s behalf as part of a non-disclosure agreement in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election.

Clifford alleges that she had an affair with Trump in 2006, which the White House has denied. Cohen, who has admitted to making the payment, is now under investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations, The Washington Post reported Monday.

After the raid, Dershowitz, who has frequently criticized Mueller’s investigation, appeared on Fox News to lambaste the probe. Sources have told multiple US outlets that Trump sees Dershowitz as one of his most effective public defenders.

Dershowitz has, for his part, said he was uninterested in joining the president’s legal team. He has also said he does not give Trump legal advice. But he declined to answer Tuesday night a Washington Post reporter’s questions as to whether Trump spoke with him about the Mueller probe.

“I’m not going to discuss what I discussed with the president,” he said.

Instead, Dershowitz, who is known for his pro-Israel advocacy, said he met with Trump to advise him on Middle East policy.

“This was a pre-scheduled meeting to talk to the White House staff members about ongoing efforts to come to an agreement on the Middle East,” the author told Slate. “This is the third time I have met about the Middle East, and I hope to continue to have some input on the Middle East. This is the fourth president I have advised on the Middle East. And that’s the reason I came to the White House.”

“After this was all scheduled, the president then invited me to join him and others for dinner tonight, which I did,” he added. “We continued to discuss the Middle East and Syria and Iran and the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

His tête-à-tête with Trump comes roughly a month before the US president is expected to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and when the new US embassy will open in Jerusalem. It also comes as Trump weighs how to respond to recent revelations that Syrian President Bashar Assad again deployed chemical weapons on civilians.

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