Trump Huddles With Alan Dershowitz Amid Syrian and Mueller Probe Tensions

Dershowitz denies he discussed any legal issues with the President, and insists the main topic of their conversation was Israeli-Palestinian peace

U.S. President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., April 10, 2018
Bloomberg

President Trump had dinner on Tuesday with law professor Alan Dershowitz, who arrived to the White House at a time when Trump is facing increasing legal pressure from the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Dershowitz, however, denied that he discussed those legal issues with Trump, and insisted that the main topic of their conversation was Israeli-Palestinian peace

Dershowitz told Haaretz that he was invited to the White House primarily to discuss the Middle East peace process, and that the meeting was scheduled in advance, before the latest legal drama surrounding Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen. Dershowitz has consistently stated in recent months that he is not providing legal advice to Trump, and that he is not interested in joining his team of lawyers. 

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"This was a previously scheduled meeting focused on Middle East policy," Dershowitz said in a phone conversation on Tuesday, after leaving the White House. "They wanted to hear my ideas about the peace process and the wider issues of the region."  According to Dershowitz, the conversation was attended by the President and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, in addition to other administration officials. 

"I've had such conversations in the past with other presidents," Dershowitz added. "I met Obama, Clinton and even George W. Bush. This is a long-standing interest of mine, I've written books on the subject and have devoted a lot of thought to it. I'm happy they wanted to hear my perspective. I got the sense that they're working very hard on their peace plan and that this is a priority for the administration." 

Dershowitz has gone on the airwaves many times over the past year to defend Trump and criticize the investigations against him. He has similarly criticized the corruption investigations surrounding Prime Minister Netanyahu on a number of occasions.  He told Haaretz on Tuesday that he has met Trump three times since the New York businessman became President last year, and that all three meetings focused on foreign policy issues. 

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"The conversation tonight was mainly, but not exclusively, on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. We also talked about Iran, Syria and the situation among the Gulf states," he said. On the latter issue, Dershowitz surprised many people earlier this year when he wrote an op-ed following a visit he made to Qatar, in which he praised the country's leadership and raised questions on the validity and justification of the blockade that its neighbors have placed against it. 

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The Emir of Qatar was at the White House earlier Tuesday for a meeting with Trump, during which the President called him "a great friend" and said the two countries were enjoying excellent cooperation. Dershowitz told Haaretz that he didn't know his own meeting with Trump would take place at the same day that Trump meets the Emir, and that he has not met the Qatari leader during his current visit to Washington. 

"I'm not an advocate for Qatar. I'm just interested in understanding the full picture," Dershowitz said. He has visited the rich Emirate at least twice in recent months, as part of an ongoing campaign by Qatar to improve its image within the American Jewish community. 

Dershowitz said he could not share with Haaretz the specific ideas that he offered the Trump team during the dinner, whether it's on the Israeli-Palestinian issue or on the Gulf crisis. "When I give advice to the President," he said, "I keep it confidential."