Attorney Alan Dershowitz discusses the good and bad of Barr's testimony

Author of the New York Times best seller "The Mueller Report" explains when lying is considered a crime and discusses whether Mueller will testify.
8:49 | 05/02/19

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Transcript for Attorney Alan Dershowitz discusses the good and bad of Barr's testimony
Attorney Alan Dershowitz goes to bat for you know who in the white house in an introduction he wrote for a new print edition of "The Mueller report," but did attorney general William Barr's testimony yesterday change his mind at all? Let's find out. Please welcome Alan Dershowitz. So we were talking about the attorney general and hearing. You watched it. What was your take? I thought he was right on the merits when he said the president couldn't obstruct justice simply by firing Comey. I don't think he did a credible job on the rest of the issue. Then I think his decision today not to testify in front of the house of representatives was a he should testify. Why did he do that? Whether the white house told him to do it or whether he said enough is enough or whether he was concerned about lawyers -- would you want to be cross-examined by sunny for a half hour? Probably. She's fantastic. She'll make you say things you don't want to say. It's easy to resist questions from elected members. They generally tend to try to get re-elected and politicize everything. When professional lawyers ask you questions, there's no hiding. That's why I think he didn't want to testify. Probably. It's me? So yesterday I said a lie is a lie is a lie. Barr knew what he was doing when he mislead congress by saying there's nothing else in there. Don't look. There's nothing there. When are we going to get back to the right and wrong thing? Like your mom taught you I assume and my mom taught me and our parents taught us. If you lie there are consequences. When are consequences coming back? This is not good for us as a nation. Absolutely. They come back on November of 2020 when we all go to the polls and weote against people that we think lied. It would be a terrible thing to criminalize lies. There would be no politicians left if we said it was a crime to lie to the media. Not to the -- Not to the media. It's not a crime. It's a crime to lie to congress. It's in the a crime to lie to the media. But to tell other people to lie. Exactly. That's why Nixon was impeached. That's obstruction of justice. That's a crime. Who does that sound like Let me tell you what the difference is. It sounds the same. The rule of law requires we distinguish between sins and crimes. Sins we vote about. Crimes require people like sunny to indict you and put you in jail, but you have to cross a line. There's no federal crime that says it's illegal to lie to the media, it's illegal to operate -- Not the media. -- A bad administration. Let me give you a great example that was not cited in the Mueller report. There were 11 examples. George H.W. Bush. On the day that Casper Weinberger was supposed to be sent to try for the Iran contra scandal, he pardoned him. He pardoned him for one reason. He didn't want him to testify against him. He did it for his own purpose. The special prosecutor said that. He said he pardoned him in order to end the investigation. It was corrupt and obstructive. Nobody suggested that president bush could be indicted for obstruction of justice. You're allowed under the constitution to pardon people and fire people. My argument and I wish I were back teaching at Harvard because it's an interesting argument for there are two sides to it. If a president engages in conduct under article II in the constitution, that's can't be the act required for obstruction of justice. That's my view. Not everybody agrees with it. I don't agree with it. We can move on. I have a question -- I thought I asked the questions professor. Would you agree with it if the person what was being indicted or investigated was Hillary Clinton? That's a great question. I would. I would. I absolutely would. I think that -- Then you pass. If the Mueller report came up with 11 instances of potential obstruction, I think I would have certainly. No question. I agree with you. You think all of our colleagues, many of whom are partisan, would apply the same rules to Hillary Clinton than to -- What about president Obama? President Obama didn't do any of these things. He had a clean administration. That's why everybody is pissed. I'm a straight shooter. You are. Barr admitted he didn't read the underlyin evidence, only read the report. It's not even clear to me if he even read the full report. How could he make a call like that on obstruction without looking at the underlying evidence? Let me tell you how. He believed that Mueller got it wrong on the law. It's only about six pages legal analysis. Mueller says you can obstruct justice even if you engage in constitutionally protected Barr doesn't believe that. From Barr's point of view the whole Mueller report is based on a false legal premise. It would have been much better if he wouldn't have said a word until he read the report and every American read the report. Then Barr could have come out and -- It wasn't his call to make. It was congress' call. No. I completely disagree with you on that. I know you. Congress has the right to impeach. To indict is the call of the attorney general. This attorney general was not recused. He made the call. In my view he made the right call, but in the wrong way. Here's what frustrates me. Over two years of this, $25 million spent, people are still sitting with a million questions. That's right. Whoopi brings up all the time that trump tower meeting about adoption. I want to hear from Robert Mueller. Lindsey graham said it's over. If we heard from him, would that solve this confusion? No because the confusion is based on the fact we're all partisans. People root for a side. If you say anything that's seen as helping trump, you're anti this and pro trump. If you say anything against trump, people choose sides. They want to be confused. They don't want to know the truth. Today we have Republican truth and Democrat truth. And alternative facts. I want Mueller to testify. I graded the report. I gave it a grade. I gave him an incomplete because he failed to come to a conclusion on obstruction of justice. That was his job. He referred it to congress. That's not the job of a special counsel. He was so worried about what happened to James Comey. That's a good point. Don't you think? That's a very good point. He did it the opposite way. What James Comey said I'm coming to a conclusion. We're not indicting Hillary Clinton. Let me tell you how sloppy she was. That was wrong. There's a doj policy, professor, that says you cannot indict a sitting president. That's right. Perhaps that's why. He said explicitly that was not the reason he did it. He said there was insufficient to warrant bringing charges. That was the right conclusion, but he went about it in an inept way. He didn't give the American public enough confidence -- We don't know that because everybody is thoroughly members of the audience are getting a copy of his book "The Mueller report." We'll be right back with Alan

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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