Desperately trying to wall Trump off from possible looming legal doom, Trump's attorney suggests presidents are immune to the law.
Days after Donald Trump appeared to once again obstruct justice with a wayward tweet about his disgraced former national security adviser, Trump’s lawyer on Monday claimed that even if he did obstruct justice, Trump couldn’t be prosecuted because presidents are free to interfere with criminal investigations — even ones where the president may be the target.
The stunning and reckless claim came from Trump attorney John Dowd, who told Axios 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.”
The White House’s latest, and perhaps most brazen, defense comes after Trump wrote on Saturday that he knew his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had lied to the FBI last winter — and yet Trump still pressed then-FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Flynn while investigating possible Trump ties with Russia. (On Friday, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.)
Trying to clean up the Twitter mess, Dowd soon insisted he had written the Trump tweet in question.
Now comes the Dowd claim that even if Trump did write the tweet and even if he does try to thwart Mueller’s burgeoning investigation, it’s fine because Trump is immune to the law.
This latest claim comes in the wake of ongoing White House spin that Trump also can’t be charged with colluding with Russia. Notes Axios, “Presumably, you wouldn’t preemptively make these arguments unless you felt there was a chance charges are coming.”
Former President Richard Nixon was famously charged with obstruction of justice during the Watergate scandal. The U.S. House of Representatives passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon, and one of them was for obstruction of justice, as Nixon tried to cover-up the initial Watergate break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters, which was oversee by Nixon’s team.
Obstruction was at the center of the “smoking gun” tape that brought down Nixon. On June 23, 1972, Nixon met with his chief of staff, Bob Haldeman, and discussed contacting the FBI and telling them to “stay the hell out of” the unfolding Watergate burglary case.
Nixon resigned in 1974 before the obstruction allegations could be adjudicated.
Two decades later, Ken Starr charged Bill Clinton with obstruction of justice for denying he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. During the impeachment trial in the Senate, Starr’s team wasn’t able to prove the charge.
Now we’re being told there are completely new rules for the Trump era.