Did Alan Dershowitz Say He Was ‘Appalled’ at Nancy Pelosi?

The civilian prosecution of a former president has never been undertaken in U.S. history.

  • Published 12 November 2019


Alan Dershowitz said he was "appalled at" Pelosi for "weaponizing the criminal justice system."


Correct Attribution
About this rating


On June 5, 2019, Politico reported that Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who at that time was resisting calls within her party for the House to launch an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump — had stated of the president during a meeting with senior Democrats that, “I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison”:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told senior Democrats that she’d like to see President Donald Trump “in prison” as she clashed with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler in a meeting over whether to launch impeachment proceedings.

Pelosi met with Nadler (D-N.Y.) and several other top Democrats who are aggressively pursuing investigations against the president, according to multiple sources. Nadler and other committee leaders have been embroiled in a behind-the-scenes turf battle for weeks over ownership of the Democrats’ sprawling investigation into Trump.

Nadler pressed Pelosi to allow his committee to launch an impeachment inquiry against Trump — the second such request he’s made in recent weeks only to be rebuffed by the California Democrat and other senior leaders. Pelosi stood firm, reiterating that she isn’t open to the idea of impeaching Trump at this time.

“I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison,” Pelosi said, according to multiple Democratic sources familiar with the meeting. Instead of impeachment, Pelosi still prefers to see Trump defeated at the ballot box and then prosecuted for his alleged crimes, according to the sources.

Afterwards, a meme began on social media stating that former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, who self-identified as a “liberal Democrat,” had declared he was “appalled at” Pelosi for “weaponizing the criminal justice system”:

Dershowitz did offer the response to Pelosi’s reported comment, as quoted in the meme, during an appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.” The meme omitted several sentences from the middle and ending of Dershowitz’s response, although without substantively changing the gist of his remarks:

However, Dershowitz’s reaction didn’t seem to correspond to the context of what Pelosi had reportedly said.

The House Speaker, according to Politico, didn’t assert — as Dershowitz suggested — that she wanted or expected Trump, while a sitting president, to be simply thrown in prison without his having been charged with any crime or afforded due process. As reported by Politico, Pelosi’s viewpoint at the time was that she “prefers to see Trump defeated at the ballot box and then prosecuted for his alleged crimes,” and her remark about “want[ing] to see him in prison” was not a public declaration but rather a comment she allegedly made in a private meeting with Democratic leaders that was subsequently leaked.

Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes