Trump’s lawyer says it’s legally impossible for the President to obstruct justice

Well, this is a new one, but what do you expect from such a muddleheaded administration—one intent on insulating itself from the truth and from accusations of malfeasance. As Mueller’s investigation gets closer and closer to Trump, with the possibility that the Prez obstructed justice by telling FBI director James Comey to stop investigating the now-guilty Michael Flynn (along with Trump’s claim that he knew that Flynn had lied when firing him), they’re pulling their desperation moves to stave off the possibility that Trump could even be charged. As CNN reports:

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd, claims the President cannot be guilty of obstructing justice, according to an interview with Axios.

“(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,” Dowd told Axios.

The new defense comes after a tweet from Trump’s account suggested the President knew former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI when he was fired in February, raising questions about whether Trump knew about Flynn’s lying before pressuring former FBI Director James Comey to let go of inquiries into Russian election meddling.

The position that Trump cannot obstruct justice — which evokes a similar claim once made by former President Richard Nixon, who resigned over the Watergate scandal — is sure to be debated as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation intensifies. Flynn is the first administration official to be charged as part of the probe.

That is, to put it mildly, lame. Well, it didn’t work for Nixon, who had to be pardoned in advance by Gerald Ford (look for the same from Pence!), and it won’t work for Trump. Things are looking as if President Donald himself may be caught up in all this, and wouldn’t it be Schadenfreude to see him go down, regardless of the conservatism of his successor.

91 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    sub

    • Mark Reaume
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      sub

  2. Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    It isn’t just a lame assertion, intended for only the most gullible, it is irrelevant. A President can be impeached and tried for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which are not defined. If enough people feel that obstruction of justice, an abuse of power, rises to this level, then the game is on.

    Considering the GOP demonstrated lack of moral fiber, I would not count on this approach, though in that is they will vote for that abortion of a tax “reform,” they certainly will not vote to impeach the President.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Sounds right to me. The hope I have is that just moving toward impeachment and having the GOP vote against it would be a huge blow to 45. It could cripple him and the GOP in there nefarious endeavors until the next presidential election.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    But did Flynn “lie UNDER OATH?”(TM)

    • Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Lying under questioning by the FBI apparently is a crime: Violation of 18 USC Section 1001. You can remain silent; but you can’t lie.

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I thought the whole idea of the Republic, separate from the Old Country, was that no one was above the law?

    Still, we all know that Trump would like being president to be the same as being a dictator. Those are the fellow leaders he admires most.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Apparently you missed the Divine Right Amendment.

    • Craw
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      It wasn’t true even in the old country. Magna Carta et seq.

      Will he argue presidents cannot be charged with bribery?

  5. Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Sounds like the claim of a desperate defense attorney who knows his client is screwed. The crime he has plainly committed is actually not a crime after all.

  6. Blue
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    O, I wish this were true, Dr Coyne / All. How I wish this were true.

    But.

    It = his Going Down ? and our entirely
    due – Schadenfreude ? It will not happen.
    I am so sorry to state. But it will not
    happen.

    Just as .I know. that my tombstone will not
    read, “Here Lies the World’s Woman … …
    Oldest – Ever to Live,” neither either shall
    we see his Going Down. How these rich men in
    power manage to finagle through is beyond me.

    But they do. They manage to.

    THAT, along with Dr Germaine Greer’s
    admonition of decades’ time ago (first
    sentence, p279, the Female Eunuch),
    is why I placed with you, Dr Coyne,
    the late y2016 wager that I did:
    that he would win.

    Only Schadenfreude in re him for you ?
    that Chicago – style hotdog, Boss.

    Blue

  7. paablo
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    It will work as long as the Republicans in congress need him for political cover. When he becomes a barrier to their agenda (not likely), then and only then will they decide to get rid of him.

    Those who wait for the “bridge too far” moment will be waiting a long time, as the bridges for most rational folk are well into the double digits.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      The tax-cut-for-the-super-rich bill that just cleared the US senate was the one drop-dead piece of pay-back legislation Republicans had to pass to keep their donor base happy. (Since Citizens United, a handful of ultra-rich donors have replaced the political parties as electoral powerbrokers in this country.)

      Now that this is a fait accompli (with only the reconciliation process remaining), congressional Republicans have little motive for sticking fast to Donald Trump — full-scale Obamacare repeal is dead; there’s no chance of immigration reform; and most GOP congressmen don’t give a damn about the rest of Trump’s so-called “agenda,” like building a border wall.

      Especially among those that are up for reelection in 2018 (all 246 Republican-held House seats, and nine GOP senators), they have scant incentive to tie themselves to a president whose approval rating is mired in the 30s (and who has come out publicly for an embarrassment like Roy Moore). Support for Trump in congress — always tepid at best — may cool further, and we may begin to see some Trump defectors as the evidence against him gets evermore ugly.

      • tomh
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        That may all be true, but it seems doubtful that defections could ever rise to impeachment level, let alone conviction in the Senate. Removing Trump from office by impeachment (which has never happened to a US President) would be a black eye for the GOP that they might never recover from.

        • GBJames
          Posted December 4, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          “(which has never happened to a US President)”

          While this is technically true, it was the threat of impeachment and the likely outcome the trial that led to Nixon removing himself from office.

          • ploubere
            Posted December 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

            This again is the weakness in the electoral system. Since most representative districts are gerrymandered, incumbent republicans are in districts that still favor Trump. If they vote to oust him, they’ll lose in the next primary to an even more rabid Trump supporter. So they can’t afford to impeach him. Ain’t gonna happen.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 4, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          Richard Nixon swept to reelection in November 1972 with sky-high approval ratings, winning 49 of 50 states and 60.7% of the popular vote. Yet 21 months later he was out on his ear, scurrying out of the White House just ahead of three articles of impeachment being returned against him.

          Donald Trump backed into the White House after losing the popular election by 3 million votes and has had unprecedentedly low approval numbers during his first year in office. He has been an absolute disaster and embarrassment as chief executive. If the special counsel’s investigation reveals plainly that Trump has been compromised by Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs (which seems to be the most parsimonious explanation accounting for all the known facts), I have confidence that the American people will turn against Trump en masse, and that congress will follow suit. There comes a point where the nation will tolerate no more.

          • tomh
            Posted December 4, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

            “There comes a point where the nation will tolerate no more.”

            You are more optimistic than I am. Much has changed since 1974 – for one thing, there were still some principled Republicans then, not to mention that the Democrats had large majorities in both the House and Senate. If those days ever return, I’m afraid it will be in the distant future.

          • paablo
            Posted December 4, 2017 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

            “There comes a point where the nation will tolerate no more.”
            I used to believe this. I see little evidence that this is still true.

  8. Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Bill Palmer is a blogger who tends to hyperventilate a bit, but I do agree with what he has to say today about Trump’s prospects:

    “Robert Mueller’s job is to dismantle Donald Trump and his entire crime syndicate for all to see, such that the American people leave the Republican Congress with no choice but to oust Trump for fear of getting wiped out in the midterms. Again, the most clueless people in all of politics are those who think the Republicans in Congress are stupid enough to cost themselves reelection by trying to protect Trump once they know he’s toast. They couldn’t care less about Trump’s fate; they only care about their own.”

    • Historian
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      “Again, the most clueless people in all of politics are those who think the Republicans in Congress are stupid enough to cost themselves reelection by trying to protect Trump once they know he’s toast.”

      Trump is only toast when his base deserts him and we’ve seen precious little about that. The base determines who will win Republican primaries. No matter what Mueller says or does about Trump or his inner circle, there is little likelihood that they will turn against their cult leader. Hence, to have any chance to win re-nomination, Senators and Representatives up for election will avoid at all costs alienating the base. This is why they will not go against Trump. Of course, if Trump is condemned by Mueller then 2018 may be a wave election for Democrats. But, for the Republicans the first task is to be re-nominated. We must never forget that the Republican Party has been taken over by right-wing extremists.

      • Blue
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        +1

        Blue

      • Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        Indeed.

        Though Mueller is clearly doing an extraordinary job, and Americans can feel a bit of pride about their governmental structures, Trump’s followers are either ignorant and stupid, or so drunk on gloating about beating Hillary that they are no longer capable of normal perception. To desert him would be to admit Hillary was indeed the better candidate.

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Goldwater was right, and religion has become the glue holding the tribal bundle-o-crazy together.

        “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

      • Craw
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        If that is Mueller’s purpose then it is an abuse and Trump would be right to fire him. But it is not his purpose. His purpose is to investigate the possibility of collusion and interference fairly and fully and determine if there is legal evidence.

      • Harrison
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        You’re forgetting the existence of wingnut welfare. An ousted Republican might well still look forward to a career in the lobbying industry. What’s most important to the Republican Party is not allowing Dems to undo some of the damage they are currently doing.

        Trump’s given Republicans as much as they’re ever going to get from him, and it’s a lot less than they’d hoped. Now they’ve got their sham of a tax plan ready to go they have no use for him. Their overriding goal at this point is “don’t let Dems retake Congress and undo our big donor giveaway.” And if it takes throwing Trump to the wolves to do it they will.

        • Harrison
          Posted December 4, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

          Or to put it more simply, the big money donors and their interests will ALWAYS outrank the Trump base. Always.

    • Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      No Mueller’s job is to determine if there is a crime and, if so, who committed it and bring them to justice.

      Although it seems pretty obvious that Trump is guilty of collusion with the Russians, we have not seen any real evidence yet that he personally was involved.

      I think there is a good chance that not enough evidence will be found to bring Trump down and the confidence of many people that he will be is more the result of wishful thinking than hard evidence.

      For example, Trump junior went to see some Russians but he claims his dad was not involved. It might seem incredible that Trump senior did not know of the meeting, but until there is hard evidence, as far as the law and Republicans are concerned Trump senior did not know.

      This Republican congress might hate Trump but it will not impeach him unless its members are into political suicide.

  9. jaxkayaker
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Pence may not be able to pardon Trump, if he goes down also. It will be interesting to find out what he knew and when he knew it. I sincerely doubt his hands are clean.

    • tomh
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Why wouldn’t Pence be able to pardon Trump? Only the impeachment process would not be subject to a pardon.

      • GBJames
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        I think Jay’s point is that if Pence is also taken down by Mueller, he won’t be in a position to pardon anybody at all.

      • tomh
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Oh, I see, you mean Trump and Pence go at the same time. Well, then, President Ryan could just pardon both of them.

        • GBJames
          Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, it is a bit of a mess, isn’t it?

          The path I see is probably remote… Trump/Pence hold on until the 2018 elections. Democrats gain enough in the House to eject Ryan from the Speakership. Then both Trump and Pence go down.

          Unlikely, to be sure.

          • jaxkayaker
            Posted December 4, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

            I don’t really care about pardons. If they violated the law, I want them out of office. That’s the most important thing.

            I want them out of office in any case.

            • GBJames
              Posted December 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

              I care about pardons a lot if they interfere with getting them out of office.

              I very much fear pardons issued by tRump that results in the end of this process and the scoundrels remaining in place.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted December 4, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

                I think the investigation may have spun beyond Trump’s ability to control through exercise of the pardon power — in part because Trump’s lawyers (perhaps because they buy his bullshit denials) have counseled him to play nice with the Mueller investigation, and that he’ll soon be exonerated. That’s not gonna happen, of course, and when this dawns on him (which must be happening right about now), he’ll likely fire his legal team.

                Then, his only recourse will be to make a move on Mueller, which I still expect he’ll do. This will thrust the nation into a full-blown constitutional crisis.

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Has Flynn been confronted with the Euthyphro dilemma??

    Does Trump will it because it is just, or is it just because Trump wills it??

    Not even Aquinas or Tillich can work that one out!!

  11. BobTerrace
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I’m sure Trump will be indicted for at least a half a dozen different offenses, including treason

    • Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      What is it that makes you so sure? Do you have inside information on the investigation?

      • tomh
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        Wishful thinking can make one sure.

      • Craw
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. Everyone is speculating wildly, on less than fumes. It is a key point that Flynn was not charged with any crime other than lying to the FBI. When a prosecutor wants to pursue an illegal scheme and has a witness who was part of the scheme, he usually starts by having the witness plead guilty to that scheme. Not what we see here.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 4, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          “Fumes”? Hardly. You must not be paying attention to the mountain of evidence accreting against Trump, Craw. I set that evidence out for you, chapter & verse, here. And I analyzed that evidence in light of the minimal legal burden for going forward on an obstruction-of-justice charge here.

          Since I wrote that a couple days ago, the case against Trump has gotten even stronger. In a tweet yesterday, Trump admitted that he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI before he (Trump) met privately in the Oval Office with James Comey to importune Comey to drop the criminal investigation of Flynn. Thus, Trump wasn’t urging that Flynn she be let go because was innocent, but the opposite: he was seeking to influence the investigation of a man he knew to be guilty — a “corrupt motive” per se.

          • Craw
            Posted December 5, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

            You aren’t keeping up Ken. Trump’s lawyer made that tweet.

            In fact at this point it’s Mueller who is in trouble. The Strzok thing, and the stonewalling, are destroying his credibility. It will collapse amongst those who are not already committed to the idea Trump is guilty. He needs to resign, and a replacement needs to clean house and find and punish the leakers to restore credibility.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted December 5, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

              Oh, I’m keeping up, Craw. Even if Trump’s lawyer made that tweet, it constitutes an admission by Trump, just as though made by him personally, under Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(D).

              Mueller is running an exceptionally tight ship, leak-free and he canned Strzok at the first hint untoward bias. Would that Donald Trump had comported himself with even a tiny fraction of the rectitude and honor of Robert Mueller!

        • darrelle
          Posted December 4, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          I’ve heard and read opinions from a pretty wide variety of experts about what the charge against Mike Flynn likely indicates and they don’t agree with your claim. It seems a pretty common tactic to make a deal with a lower level criminal to bring lesser charges against them in exchange for information or testimony that seems likely to enable charges against higher level criminals.

          In regular criminal matters in the US such dealing is normal. I don’t see why it would be any different at this level. If anything I’d expect it to be even more common in these types of circumstances.

          • Craw
            Posted December 5, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

            Well you are wrong (what prosecutor paints his star witness as a liar when he could have him confess something useful?) but let’s stipulate ad arguendo that what you say is right. Still then what factual basis is there for the kind of conclusions we are seeing people draw here? None. They are all based on “maybe”, “perhaps”. And I agree, maybe perhaps something will emerge. Maybe perhaps Flynn has something devastating. But we haven’t seen it so far, so the speculation is embarrassing.

            • darrelle
              Posted December 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

              No Craw. I’m not wrong. Not only is your reasoning flawed but you are ignoring a large amount of historical precedent. The only part you are correct about is that given the current state of public knowledge we can’t reach a definite conclusion.

              You are of course free to feel embarrassed about people speculating about this issue. I find I can bear your embarrassment rather easily, but thanks for your concern.

              I am still interested about your concerns with civility, though. Do you think your comment here was civil? I don’t think it was too bad, but I wouldn’t characterize it as civil.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted December 5, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

              Mueller is sending the unmistakable message to potential witnesses in this matter that lies to federal investigators will not be tolerated. That’s why he’s made both Papadopolous and Flynn eat section 1001 false-statement charges (and why Manafort and Gates have been similarly so charged).

              That they have been punished for lying to the FBI — rather than getting away with it by pleading to something else — will enhances their credibility, should these witnesses ever be cross-examined by lawyers for Team Trump. The last thing a prosecutor wants his witnesses to be questioned about on the stand are lies they told to the feds and got away with.

  12. Rob
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    And don’t forget:

    –The President can not have a conflict of interest

    –The President is not to be questioned

    • Posted December 4, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Yep, it’s got a Pope-a-dope smell to it.

      It’s also classic Trumpism where he puts out a narrative more to his liking and according to how he would like reality to be, and then hopes it’ll come true.

  13. Dave137
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Some of the “smartest” politicians have been brought down yet this orange dimwitted turd somehow continues to float.

    We slipped cosmic membranes into a tragic Twilight Zone.

  14. Jon Gallant
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    The Trump claim of sovereign immunity goes back much further than Nixon. In his trial in 1649, Charles 1 of England claimed the maxim that “the King can do no wrong”. The special court which tried him, on the other hand, asserted that the kingship was “but an office whose every occupant was entrusted with a limited power to govern ‘by and according to the laws of the land and not otherwise’ “. Charles refused to recognize the authority of the court, and in this matter you might say that he lost his head.

  15. Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    As a matter of morbid curiousity (and as one trained in argument analysis) I am trying to figure out this argument.

    Is the claim that because Trump is the *chief* LEO that he cannot obscruct justice by commenting on pending cases, or that because he’s *a* LEO that he cannot?

    • Craw
      Posted December 5, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Trump has the authority to fire Comey for any reason. That authority is constitutionally unreviewable. This claim is correct.
      From that some infer that he cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice. I do not think that argument holds up legally, since there are lots of circumstances where lected officials, or anyone, has a legal right to do something yet doing it can be a crime in some circumstances. Bribe taking and blackmail are classic examples. So while Ttrump’s firing of Comey was within his legal purview it still misght be corrupt and it still might serve as the basis of either a legal charge or an impeachment.
      I am not saying I think Trump guilty. I don’t know. I’m just trying to answer your query and explain why I think that answer is wrong.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 5, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        While it is true that the president has the raw power, under Article 2 of the constitution, to fire the FBI director for any reason (or for no reason at all), there’s an expectation that the FBI director will only be removed from office for “cause.”

        (This is why FBI directors are appointed for 10-year terms, rather than serving strictly at-will. The intent was both to limit directors’ tenure and to shield them from undue presidential influence by ensuring they would not serve, and thus be beholden to, but a single president. This provision was enacted in reaction to the gross abuses of power of J. Edgar Hoover, who ruthlessly held onto power, largely by blackmailing eight consecutive presidents, for nearly a half-century — and in reaction to Richard Nixon’s co-option of Hoover’s successor, L. Patrick Gray, into wrongdoing, the way Trump tried to co-opt James Comey.)

        • Posted December 6, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          Even if he has the power to do a firing, it does not follow that he cannot be charged with obstruction – for example, by the commentary bits.

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    This would come as news to the House committees that voted obstruction-of-justice articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

  17. Merilee
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Sub

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Trump’s lawyers are in a panic. Between the proposed testimony of Michael Flynn (as per the proffer in the “Statement of the Case” entered at his guilty plea), the testimony of James Comey (as per his congressional testimony and the summary of his contemporaneous memos he released before testifying), along with Donald Trump’s own admissions, and the available circumstantial evidence, Robert Mueller could put on a prima facie case of obstruction of justice against Donald Trump right now.

    Of course, it’s only gonna get worse for the Donald from here on out. Look for Trump to fire his legal team, and to blame all his woes on them, before long.

  19. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Nothing like a bunch of Monday quarterbacks to get the legal scoop. I will defer to Ken and very few others on the legalese. However, the idea that this republican house or senate will not turn on him if the conclusions warrant it just seems extreme to me. Those guys would throw their mother under the bus if the price is right and they will go which ever way the wind blows. Even the 35 percent or so of loyal Trump followers that so many here seem to bow down to become dust in the air if the legal findings and conclusions says he needs to go. I predict that once everything that Flynn tells is fully verified by council, Trump will be gone. Maybe Pence too if we are lucky.

    • darrelle
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think people that are skeptical that the Republicans would impeach Trump are skeptical because they think the Republicans are too loyal to Trump, Randy. I think it more likely they are skeptical based on their assessment of what the Republican leadership thinks are the best actions they could take that leaves them with as much power as possible.

      I’d argue that that is something that is hard to predict with any probability of accuracy that would warrant strong confidence. The Republicans are in a world of shit, between Scylla and Charybdis as it were, and figuring out what they are going to decide is in their own best interest seems like a very difficult task. I could very well be mistaken but it seems to me that an air of desperation has gathered about the Republicans lately.

  20. Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if the GOP remember impeaching Bill Clinton for lying about a consensual sex act?

    Oh, wait, extramarital sex is way more important than foreign government interference in our national elections. What was I thinking?!

    • Craw
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      That’s not what the perjury was about. The perjury was about Paula Jones.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Clinton was also impeached on an obstruction-of-justice charge (Article III) which concerned efforts to keep Monica Lewinsky from giving adverse testimony through, among other things, buying her gifts and finding her another job. The evidence against Trump on obstruction is already an order of magnitude stronger than it was as to this Article against Clinton.

        • Craw
          Posted December 5, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          That obstruction was not “lying about a consensual sex act” though was it? It was about trying to get ML to lie about it.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted December 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, the lying about a consensual sex act was Article I of impeachment against Clinton.

  21. Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    A very volatile and confusing time to be trying to predict the future.

    My bet would be for Trump to bank on Republicans not wanting to impeach a wartime President — I assume he will try to start a war with North Korea. (He’s probably too stupid to know how to organize a war himself though, so who knows?)

    One thing I would bet on though, is that if Roy Moore gets elected, things like impeachment and Democratic majorities are off the table.

    Or he might bring himself down by some other means that is so stupid that no one else saw it coming.

    • GBJames
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Death by Macdonalds overdose perhaps?

      • Mark R.
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        If Moore gets elected, neither impeachment nor D-majorities are off the table.

        Alabama has a 14% advantage towards a candidate with an “R” next to their name. (It’s the 6th “most republican” state in the US.) It’s pathetic that a child molester could be elected to the Senate, but a 14% advantage is daunting. It’s amazing that the polls are so close in a state that Trump won by almost 30%. But besides that, a Moore victory will only strengthen the resistance. There will be a backlash for sure, and if Democrats win back the House in 2018, they will begin the impeachment process. That doesn’t mean that a Republican Senate will go along, but it does mean impeachment is not off the table.

        • Mark R.
          Posted December 4, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

          Sorry…meant to reply to Yakaru.

  22. Rob
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Pretty soon we’ll be hearing:

    –The President can’t break the law.

    –The President can’t violate the constitution.

    • Posted December 5, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      As mentioned, didn’t Nixon try explicitly “if the President does it, it isn’t illegal”?

  23. busterggi
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    “In any organization, the man at the top must bear the responsibility. That responsibility, therefore, belongs here, in this office. I accept it. And I pledge to you tonight, from this office, that I will do everything in my power to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice and that such abuses are purged from our political processes in the years to come, long after I have left this office.”

    Nixon’s First Watergate Speech. (April 30, 1973)

    Purge didn’t work.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Trump seems more likely to binge than to purge.

  24. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I suspect we will eventually see Robert Mueller bring a conspiracy-to-obstruct-justice charge against members of Trump’s inner circle, naming Mike Flynn and Donald Trump as un-indicted co-conspirators.

    The gravamen of the charge will be Trump’s attempt to persuade James Comey to drop the criminal investigation against Mike Flynn and Trump’s subsequent pretextual firing of Comey after he failed to do so. But the charge will also list as “overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy” all the bald-faced lies Trump and his people have told to throw investigators off the scent, up to and including the ludicrous statement Trump wrote for his son, Don Jr., trying to pass off the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Junior, campaign manager Paul Manafort, son-in-law/top advisor Jared Kushner, and six Russians (including a spy, a money-laundered, a computer hacker, and a Kremlin lawyer) as nothing but a discussion over the adoption of bouncy little Russian babies.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      IF there was a Quid Pro Quo agreement – get sanctions removed for specific help getting Trump elected and this can all be proven/verified would that not be a treasonous act? Or conspiracy to commit treason. If only in time of war then what would it be?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        It wouldn’t be treason, which can occur only during a time of declared war. It certainly would be a “conspiracy to defraud the United States,” in violation of 18 USC section 371. I suspect, depending on the specific circumstances, it would also violate a host of other federal laws. There is no precedent, inasmuch as our nation has never faced anything like this before — the possibility that the person serving as president of the US has divided loyalties to another nation. What unusual times we live in.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted December 4, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          Actually I don’t think his loyalties are divided. They are exclusively for him. Thanks for the info. I would certainly think they should be able to get him for this before it is all over and add it to the long sheet of stuff to lay down for the congress. I just want to see him impeached, then later turn everything over to the IRS.

        • Posted December 5, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

          There’s an interesting “hoist” – don’t the belligerent think that the AUMF or whatever is equivalent somehow? 😉

  25. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    “It has no kind of fault or flaw,
    And I, my Lords, embody the Law.”

    (Iolanthe, Gilbert & Sullivan)

    cr

  26. Merilee
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    And now this🙀
    Vicente Fox running for U.S. Prez in 2020😀

  27. Posted December 4, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I think I’ve got a couple of legal terms mixed up. Any assistance from WEIT Legal Eagles would be appreciated.

    Bear with me…impeachment is a trial conducted by the legislature to remove an office holder from his office. A case against the President brought by the House of Reps and it is the Senate who conducts the trial. But it is not a criminal trial.

    Impeachment proceedings for obstruction of justice could be used to remove him from office but they are not criminal charges – that is Trump would not be subject to a jail term if he is successfully impeached but he would if he was charged in the criminal courts. It is the latter that Trump’s lawyers are talking about.

    The question Trump’s lawyer raised is one that has been debated for a long time; can a sitting President be indicted on a criminal charge? That is, can a sitting president face the possibility of going to prison? That question has not been answered (AFAIK).

    I think. What have I got wrong?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      In our nation’s 230-year history as a constitutional republic we’ve only had two presidents impeached (both tried unsuccessfully) and one president who beat feet out of the White House just ahead of the impeachment hammer coming down. There is, thus, very little precedent concerning the matter and many unresolved questions.

      One of those unresolved questions is whether a sitting president can be indicted, and on this, opinion among experts appears to be divided. I don’t think there’s much dispute that, once out of office, a former president can be indicted, including for crimes committed while in office, consistent with the principle that no man is above the law. This is true even if that president has been removed from office through impeachment on the same grounds, inasmuch as the 5th Amendment’s double jeopardy prohibition wouldn’t apply, given that impeachment is not a criminal proceeding.

      The grounds for impeachment set out in Article 2, section 4 of the constitution, as I’m sure you’re aware, are “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” What constitutes a “high Crime” or “Misdemeanor” lies within the sole, unreviewable discretion of the US House of Representatives.

      As I understand the gist of Trump’s lawyer’s argument, he’s saying that, since the president can’t engage in obstruction of justice, it does not constitute a “high crime” (usually construed to mean a felony) and, thus, would not serve as an appropriate basis for impeachment. (For now, I don’t think Trump lawyers are concerned about him being indicted for a federal crime once he’s out of office and don’t believe Mueller will seek an indictment against him while he remains in office.) There seems to be a broad consensus among legal experts that this is argument lacks merit.

      • mikeyc
        Posted December 4, 2017 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Ken but I don’t think it’s true that no president has been indicted. An impeachment is an indictment. But it’s not a criminal indictment. That’s what I think they mean. Nixon tried that defense when it looked like he could be charged criminally but it never got resolved because Ford pardoned him. Neither Johnson nor Clinton were indicted by criminal courts so the question about charging a sitting president for a crime has never been answered; as I understand it, impeachment trials are not criminal trials.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 5, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          I was using “indictment” as a term of art, Mikey, same way it’s used in the Fifth Amendment’s Presentment Clause — i.e., as a “true bill” returned by a duly constituted grand jury.

        • Craw
          Posted December 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          Right. Impeachment trials are not criminal trials. Judges have been impeached and removed numerous times without being jailed. (Alcee Hastings was elected to congress). They are separable issues, and Trump can certainly be impeached if the congress decides his actions were corrupt even if legal.
          I left another comment here on the topic so won’t repeat.

  28. Posted December 4, 2017 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of the question of whether something is moral just because God says so, or God says so because it is moral in itself. Apparently whatever Trump does is legal, because he as President is the final arbiter of legality. L’etat c’est Trump! Don’t remember the Rethuglicans using that argument when Obama was President.

    • Posted December 5, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Of course not. The political establishment in many countries is brazenly hypocritical, but US federal Republicans seem to be about as high up as one can go that way.

  29. KD
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Slate had a good article interviewing Dershowitz on this issue:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2017/12/an_interview_with_alan_dershowitz_on_trump_and_the_mueller_investigation.html

    Of course, the above article and the commentary completely butchers the whole argument. The claim is that the President cannot commit obstruction of justice by exercising his discretionary and constitutional powers as set forth in Article II of the Constitution. Not that the President can’t commit the crime of obstruction of justice. It is not comparable to Nixon or Clinton’s actions, it is comparable to Bush’s pardon of Caspar Weinberger, which was probably intended to stop a special prosecutor from investigating Bush’s involvement in the Iran Contra scandal.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 5, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      My comment below is in response to yours.

  30. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    The Dersh is all wet on this one. Even a constitutionally authorized act can constitute an obstruction of justice if done with the requisite “corrupt intent.”

    For example, it is well-settled that every US citizen has an absolute constitutional right to travel freely from state to state. See United States v. Guest. But cross a state line in an effort to avoid arrest, and you can be prosecuted for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, in violation of 18 USC section 1073. And if you encourage a potential witness to exercise his or her right to travel out of state in order to avoid service of a subpoena, you can be charged with obstruction of justice, under 18 USC section 1512.

    The good perfesser is an outlier on this issue (and Poppy Bush likely got away with crime in pardoning Cap).


%d bloggers like this: