Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz on Tuesday night defended his congratulatory pat on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s back after President Donald Trump praised Pompeo for berating an NPR reporter, saying he just wanted to “show support” for a “great” secretary of state.
Dershowitz, the self-professed liberal lawyer who is now a member of Trump’s impeachment defense team, was on hand Tuesday afternoon when the president unveiled his dead-on-arrival Middle East peace plan. Speaking with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin about his involvement in shaping the new policy, Dershowitz was confronted over the back pat.
“Why are you patting Mike Pompeo on the back?” Toobin asked after playing a clip of the moment.
“Because I like Mike Pompeo’s views on the Middle East,” the retired Harvard law professor responded. “I thoroughly disapprove of the way he has reportedly treated a reporter. I don’t think reporters should be treated that way in any way and I don’t think presidents should say that it’s a good thing to treat a reporter that way. We’re all tempted to do that but I like Mike Pompeo’s views on the Middle East.”
Toobin, meanwhile, noted that Dershowitz gave Pompeo that back pat immediately after Trump applauded the secretary of state for profanely lashing out at NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly.
“I think you’re reading too much into that,” Dershowitz insisted. “I have patted him on the back a dozen times when we talked about the Middle East. So that’s what my pat was intended to encourage.”
“Just at that precise moment?” Toobin wondered aloud.
“If he's being attacked and he's being criticized, I want to show my support,” Dershowitz continued. “He’s a great secretary of state and has done great things for the peace process in the Middle East. If he can help to bring about peace in the Middle East I’ll forgive him his rudeness to a reporter.”