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Trump Attorney: The President Can't Obstruct Justice

Trump Attorney: The President Can't Obstruct Justice

If Congress charged President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice for firing former FBI Director James Comey, that would trigger a constitutional crisis, Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz argued Monday.

Comey has claimed that Trump asked before his firing if he could see his way to letting go of the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, an allegation denied by Trump.

A Senate investigation into connections between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 US election suggests that a potential case of obstruction of justice is developing against the president, Sen.

Dershowitz said a president can not be charged with obstruction for merely exercising his constitutional authority.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the possible collusion has thus far not implicated Trump directly.

Trump's lawyer John Dowd said he was behind a tweet that seemed to suggest the President knew his disgraced national security adviser lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation when he dismissed him in February.

Trump's attorneys are clearly getting desperate over Mueller's investigation in the wake of the Flynn guilty plea.




In Dershowitz's view, only if the president also engages in some other criminal conduct would an obstruction of justice charge be justified.

The tweet suggested that Trump was aware when the White House dismissed Flynn on February 13 that he had lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which had interviewed him weeks earlier.

"The president has lots of powers and has lots of things he can do, but he still can't do it for an improper goal", said Barbara McQuade, a former USA attorney in Detroit.

Unfortunately for Trump, there's no sound basis for this claim of presidential immunity. The president says in a tweet that "we will bring it back to greatness". But even assuming impeachment remains an option, that does not explain why the criminal laws concerning obstruction of justice would not apply to the president. Most of the cases charged under the law are against people who tried to hide evidence or pressure witnesses in court cases.

"There's a long line of cases holding that when a government official exercises an otherwise legal authority with corrupt intent, they can be prosecuted for obstruction".

Roger Stone, a political operative and longtime confidant of President Trump, said Monday night that the President's lawyers "are not serving him well".

If that is true of the prosecutor, the low man on the totem pole, the same would seem to apply to any government official who directs - even contrary to well established custom - that a prosecution be discontinued, including the attorney general or even the top law enforcement official, the president. Both Nixon and Clinton were charged with obstructing justice in their respective articles of impeachment. Lawmakers cited obstruction in impeachment proceedings against presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.


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