President Donald Trump’s counsel, John Dowd, told Mike Allen of Axios that Trump, as President, can not obstruct justice.
The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” he claimed.
In question is a tweet published on Saturday from President Trump’s personal Twitter account that Dowd claims to have written:
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
Trump’s critics point to this tweet as an admission that President Trump knew his former National Security Advisor lied to the FBI before he fired FBI Director James Comey.
Addressing the first question of whether the President of the United States can obstruct justice. Of course, he can. Putting the President above the law in this instance is asinine.
It is unlikely to see President Trump indicted on those charges, however, because he first has to be removed from office. The House of Representatives would have to impeach, and then the Senate would have to convict. Republicans control both chambers.
I don’t see that happening unless Mueller presents an incredibly compelling case.
So far, there is no such case. Trump was defended by an unlikely source – Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. Today on Fox & Friends, Dershowitz criticized U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein who said an obstruction of justice case is being made.
Dershowitz said Feinstein does not know what she is talking about. He noted that President Trump, under the Constitution, has the right to fire the FBI Director. Charging a President with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional right, Dershowitz said, would cause a “constitutional crisis in the United States.”
Dershowitz explained that to charge a President with obstruction of justice, proof of illegal acts is needed. Such was the case with President Nixon paying “hush money” during the Watergate scandal, and even President Clinton, who allegedly tried to influence potential witnesses.
So there are circumstances where a case can be made for obstruction, but as of right now there is no evidence to credibly make that claim.
That could change as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation presses forward, but as of right now it is merely wishful thinking.