President Trump delivers remarks on infrastructure investment and deregulation at the Transportation Department in Washington on Friday. (Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency)
Before the angry mob of breathless Democrats gets too spun up and ahead of itself, the anti-Trumpers should calm down and try to absorb just how preposterous it is to suggest that President Trump may have committed a criminal offense by supposedly obstructing justice during the Russia/Michael Flynn investigation.
Consider for a moment what would have happened if Trump had placed an op-ed in a prominent newspaper, arguing that the investigation into his campaign and former national security adviser Flynn was misguided, a wasteful use of government resources, and that he thought it should stop. To do so would be foolish, but not criminal.
Similarly, what if the president paraded up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Justice Department with a bullhorn shouting, “Stop the Flynn investigation!”?
It would be unwise and inappropriate, but no one would say the president committed a crime. And he certainly could not be charged with obstruction of justice.
So, if the president’s wishes about an investigation can be loud and public, how is it possible that he violated the law by having a private conversation with a member of his own administration? How can it be that a bold position made in public would be legal, yet an arguably reserved position made in private is somehow considered criminal?
When it comes to obstructing justice before an audience, does size matter? I would love to hear from lawyers about this.
Anyway, everyone should also carefully consider the arguments made by constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz presented some compelling legal insight. “The president,” he writes, “is the head of the unified executive branch of government, and the Justice Department and the FBI work under him and he may order them to do what he wishes.”
Former FBI director James B. Comey likewise confirmed during yesterday’s testimony that, “as a legal matter, [the] president is the head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory, we have important norms against this, but direct that anybody be investigated or anybody not be investigated. I think he has the legal authority because all of us ultimately report in the executive branch up to the president.” “Norms” are important, and Trump is not big on playing by the rules, but that does not mean he has broken a law.
Comey’s testimony should be enough to let this issue of criminality fade away, but the Democrats and their allies in the media are heavily invested in bringing the president down. Yesterday did not go as they wanted it to, and the Democrats’ rage won’t let them see the truth.
Again, Dershowitz argues, “it is important to put to rest the notion that there was anything criminal about the president exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and to request — ‘hope’ — that he let go the investigation of General Flynn.”
Democrats will continue to lash out and contort Comey’s testimony, but the facts speak for themselves. President Trump has not asked anyone to lie, he has not prevented anyone from performing his or her legal obligations, and he has most certainly not obstructed justice.
Comey’s testimony was not flattering toward the president, but, as I wroteyesterday, it did more to help Trump than to hurt him. No matter how much the Democrats and mainstream media outlets try to spin a crime out of the straw that was Comey’s testimony, the facts just do not take us there.
The president still has the advantage of being innocent. If the Democrats want to impeach Trump, they will have to keep looking. I’m sure they will.