Democrats’ hopes of slapping President Trump with obstruction of justice charges have crashed and burned before even getting off the ground.
The president’s detractors are once more attempting to pin him with the charges after a Saturday tweet about his former national security advisor Mike Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI on Friday.
Trump’s lawyer John Dowd, who penned the tweet, said the president cannot obstruct justice. Congressional Democrats argue the contrary. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., even said she’s part of a group creating an “obstruction” case against Trump.
But constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz, who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries and general election, agreed with Dowd in an appearance on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning.
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“If Congress ever were to charge him with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional authority under Article II [of the US Constitution], we’d have a constitutional crisis,” Dershowitz said.
He argued that the president has full constitutional authority to fire the FBI director, as well as to direct investigations at the Justice Department.
“You cannot charge a president with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and his constitutional authority to tell the Justice Department who to investigate, who not to investigate. That’s what Thomas Jefferson did, that’s what Lincoln did, that’s what Roosevelt did. We have precedents that clearly establish that.”
Dershowitz cited past administrations to clarify what does and what does not constitute obstruction of justice.
“When George Bush The First, pardoned [former Secretary of Defense] Caspar Weinberger [for perjury and obstruction of justice counts related to his role in the Iran-Contra affair] in order to end the investigation that would have led to him, nobody suggested obstruction of justice.
“For obstruction of justice by the president, you need clearly illegal acts. With Nixon, hush money paid. Telling people to lie. Destroying evidence. Even with Clinton, they said that he tried to influence potential witnesses not to tell the truth.”
He concluded by saying that an “obstruction” case against President Trump would be both unprecedented and dangerous for the country.
“But there’s never been a case in history where a President has been charged with obstruction of justice for merely exercising his constitutional authority. That would cause a constitutional crisis in the United States.”
Trump himself approved of Dershowitz’s remarks and encouraged the American people to watch the interview.
Democrats may desperately want legal grounds on which to take on the president. But for the moment, it appears they will have to keep searching.
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