Journalist and author Michael Wolff’s latest book Siege: Trump Under Fire has been busy causing its own firestorms since the book hit the New York Times Best Seller List. Yesterday, in an op-ed for The Hill, Alan Dershowitz gave President Trump’s supporters even more fuel with which to burn the reviled book. Claiming that Wolff “fictionalized my dinner with Trump,” Dershowitz pulls no punches in his denunciation of the author.
Right off the bat, Dershowitz writes, “In his new bestselling book, Siege: Trump Under Fire, author Michael Wolff makes up a story about me from whole cloth.”
Wolff’s fiction, according to Dershowitz, is the anecdote in the book about what happened when Dershowitz had dinner with Trump. According to Siege: Trump Under Fire, the dinner went like this:
Dershowitz was invited to dinner at the White House to discuss representing the president. He was just the kind of lawyer the president thought he needed: an aggressive advocate who could argue his case on television. Over dinner, Dershowitz asked for a retainer of a million dollars. Trump, ever believing that part of the legal game was not paying your lawyers, told Dershowitz he would get back to him. But the conversation was over. Never in a million years would he pay a lawyer a million bucks up front!
Well, not so fast, because according to Dershowitz:
There is no truth whatsoever to this story. I never had a conversation with President Trump or anyone else about a possible retainer to represent him. No figure of $1 million or anything else was ever discussed. The story is entirely fictional.
Not content with simply contradicting Wolff, Dershowitz continues in his op-ed to explain why Wolff’s entire book should be discarded as fiction. Explaining that while he doesn’t know if any of the rest of the book is made-up, too, the legal principle that tells jurors that they should listen with great skepticism to anything that a proven liar on the stand says should be applied to Wolff’s book. That’s a pretty sharp statement, but it’s hard to argue with the logic.
As a warning for all of us, Alan Dershowitz ends his harangue by claiming:
Unfortunately, this careless attitude toward defaming others without corroboration is a sign of the times. In the age of Trump, where charges buzz around like mosquitoes, truth seems to be a diminishing virtue. Unless there are professional, reputational, and legal consequences for willfully disseminating false gossip, it will only get worse. Readers will suffer, good writers will suffer, and political dialogue will further erode.