Senator foresees obstruction of justice case

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before departing the White House for New York on Saturday

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before departing the White House for New York on Saturday

"You can not 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", he said. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who on Sunday told NBC News' "Meet the Press" program "what we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice".

"Obstruction of justice is a crime no matter who commits it, if done for a corrupt goal".

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is warning Trump to tread cautiously, telling CBS' "Face the Nation" that Trump's comments about ongoing criminal investigations come at his "own peril".

Dershowitz said a president can not be charged with obstruction for merely exercising his constitutional authority. The president says in a tweet that "we will bring it back to greatness".

However, if Trump did it for a corrupt goal - such as trying to protect himself or his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, from what Flynn might say - then it is obstruction and there is no presidential immunity, Napolitano 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.

He writes after years under fired FBI director James Comey, "with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more)", the agency's reputation "is in Tatters - worst in History!'" The president also retweeted a tweet suggesting FBI Director Chris Wray "needs to clean house".

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But even assuming that the Constitution does not fully protect the president, it is clear than any construction of "obstruction of justice" to include a president ordering - directly or indirectly, and regardless of motive - the discontinuance of a criminal proceeding does at least raise serious constitutional issues.

"If Congress were ever to charge him with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, we'd have a constitutional crisis", he said.

As the Congressional Research Service explains: "Obstruction of justice is the frustration of governmental purposes by violence, corruption, destruction of evidence, or deceit".

"And Sen. Feinstein simply doesn't know what she's talking about when she says it's obstruction of justice to do what a president is completely authorized to do under the Constitution", Dershowitz added.

"For obstruction of justice by the president, you need clearly illegal acts".

Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and is now cooperating in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election.

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