Teddy Roosevelt achieved notoriety for charging up San Juan Hill, leading the Rough Riders to victory in the Spanish-American War, breaking up trusts, creating national parks and earning a spot on Mount Rushmore next to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. But few know that Roosevelt’s reputation and legacy were put on trial when he was sued for libel after accusing the leader of his own Republican party of political corruption. “No more dramatic courtroom scene has ever been enacted,” reported the Syracuse Herald as it covered the 1915 proceedings.
The spectacle of a president defending himself in a lawsuit gripped the nation. Roosevelt spent more than a week on the witness stand, revealing scandalous secrets about the American political system and enduring merciless cross-examination. His cousin Franklin Roosevelt even testified on his behalf.
Dan Abrams will join us in conversation with CNN’s Chris Cuomo to speak about the trial captured in his new book, Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense, and its startling relevance today.