Lawyer Wrongly Claims Trump Cannot Obstruct Justice Because He’s The President

By on December 4, 2017

There are many reasons why President Donald Trump should be worried about the ongoing Russia investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller — and not all of those reasons involve Russia.

Trump may have obstructed justice when he tried to pressure former FBI Director James Comey into dropping the investigation looking into his former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. Trump had told Comey, “I hope you can let this go,” according to Comey’s very detailed notes about the meeting that took place last February.

In a tweet made last week from Trump’s Twitter account, Trump seemingly admitted that he knew Flynn had lied to FBI investigators, before telling Comey to drop the case against him. If that were true, then Trump had knowingly told Comey to back off of Flynn while aware that Flynn had committed a crime — and thus obstructing the investigation into him.

Then word came out that it was Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, who had authored the tweet. There is no proof provided for that, and in the past we’ve been told that Trump’s tweets should be treated as if they were official statements from the president himself.

This opens a huge issue that has rarely been discussed: when can we take Trump’s Twitter account at its word, and when can the administration dismiss it as not reflective of Trump’s opinions? That is a topic that needs serious consideration, and the White House needs to clear it up pronto.

But Dowd made a different point, one that must be rejected soundly, after the blowup from the tweets. He argued, that 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,” Axios reported.

In other words, Trump has the executive authority to comment on — and place pressure on — any official investigating any federal crime in the United States.

That sort of executive privilege is far-reaching, and must be rejected outright. Indeed, one only has to wonder what sort of reaction would be created by Trump’s most ardent supporters had President Barack Obama tried to use similar tactics with then-FBI Director Comey, to recognize the absurdity of Dowd’s statement.

No, the president certainly can be charged with obstruction under these circumstances. It’s clear that Dowd and the rest of Trump’s team are merely trying to make the argument ahead of time, before they might have make the same arguments during impeachment hearings.