Trump's Lawyer's Baffling Defense: “President Cannot Obstruct Justice"

Trump's lawyer says the President is — quite literally — above the law.

By Eric Shorey

President Trump's personal lawyer John Dowd continues to make controversial statements on the ongoing investigation into the current administration's dealings with Russia. Dowd now claims that the President "is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case" and therefore "cannot obstruct justice." Dowd's comments have been interpreted to mean that he believes Trump to — quite literally — be above the law (because he is the law).

The statement comes in the wake of a confusing tweet issued by President Trump in which he appears to admit knowledge of Michael Flynn's lying to the FBI:

Dowd seems to think this admission (which he later said that he wrote from the President's twitter) is inconsequential. He refused to elaborate on the claim.

“It’s interesting as a technical legal issue, but the president’s lawyers intend to present a fact-based defense, not a mere legal defense,” said White House lawyer Ty Cobb. “That should resolve things, but we all shall see.”

When asked if President Trump agrees with Dowd's statements, Cobb demured:  “I never talk about what the president’s beliefs are or discuss communications between the president and his lawyers."

Several legal scholars have disputed Dowd's claim, deferring not only to court precedent, articles of impeachment, and “common sense.”

“We have a president, not a king,” said Sam Berger, senior policy adviser at the Center for American Progress. “No one is above the law, whether it be Trump or any of his close associates. It’s the sort of desperate claim that makes you wonder, ‘What exactly are they hiding?’”

“There’s a long line of cases holding that when a government official exercises an otherwise legal authority with corrupt intent, they can be prosecuted for obstruction. It flows from the notion that no person is above the law," said Norm Eisen, a co-author of a paper titled  “Presidential Obstruction of Justice: The Case of Donald J. Trump.”

“You cannot charge a president with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional power ... his constitutional authority to tell the Justice Department who to investigate, who not to investigate,” countered constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz. “That’s what Thomas Jefferson did, that’s what Lincoln did, that’s what Roosevelt did. We have precedents that clearly establish that.”

[Photo: Getty Images]

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