Let Me Explain Why It’s Absurd for Anyone to Claim a President Can’t Obstruct Justice

According to one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, as well as some supposed “legal experts” I’ve seen comment on the matter, a president cannot be charged with obstruction of justice because they’re the “top law enforcement officer,” so any Commander-in-Chief has every right to express their view on any case.

While I’m not a legal expert, anyone trying to make this argument shouldn’t call themselves one, either.

Using that logic, that would mean the President of the United States — any president — is above all of our laws.

Of course, that’s not true. That’s why they take the Oath of Office. What would be the point of electing a president bound by our Constitution — if they didn’t have to follow any of our constitutionally protected rights and laws?

While the president is definitely given a lot of power, they’re still bound by our Constitution. If you’re going to argue that a president can interfere with a criminal investigation, then you’re essentially saying that we have no rule of law in the United States as it relates to our Commander-in-Chief and they can do whatever the hell they want.

The argument could be made that Congress has the power of impeachment, but that doesn’t give a president the right to interfere in investigations.

For the record, Republicans impeached Bill Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Just wanted to put that out there. If a president can’t obstruct justice, then why was Clinton impeached?

Some of Trump’s defenders are claiming that because he had the right to fire James Comey, that “proves” he’s immune from obstruction of justice charges.

That’s not the same thing.

Nobody is denying that Trump had the right to fire Comey. The problem for Trump is why he fired him. Had he simply gotten rid of him without ever trying to pressure him into dropping a criminal investigation into someone he just admitted that he knew was guilty of a crime, then we wouldn’t be talking about this. At least not unless it could be proven that he did so with the sole intent of trying to interfere in an investigation.

However, when Trump, knowing of Flynn’s guilt, tried to pressure Comey into dropping the case, then seemingly proceeded to fire him for not doing what he wanted, that changed things.

Then there’s also the constant whining by Trump and many Republicans about Hillary Clinton and how she wasn’t charged with any of the supposed crimes they claim she’s committed. If Trump’s lawyers believe a president can’t obstruct justice, and can basically interfere and/or control any investigation they want, then what are they so upset about? Couldn’t it be argued that Obama could have simply told the Department of Justice and the FBI that they shouldn’t charge her with a crime? After all, if he was the “top law enforcement officer” in the country at the time, impervious to following our laws or Constitution, wouldn’t he then have had that right?

Oh, my bad, I forgot. The rules are different for Republicans and Democrats. We’re supposed to follow them — they’re not.

It’s preposterous to argue that the Founding Fathers, who clearly wanted to limit the power of the president, and installed a structure of checks and balances on the power they did have, would have intended for the leader of this country to be able to interfere in, and corrupt, any legal matters they saw fit — especially into their own conduct.

To believe that a president cannot obstruct justice because they’re the “top law enforcement officer” in the country is to believe that they’re above the law. That doesn’t make any sense based upon our Constitution, the system of checks and balances established by our Founding Fathers, and their desire to not appoint a dictator to rule over this country.

If you are someone who argues that a president cannot be charged with obstruction of justice, or is free to interfere in any investigation they see fit, then you’re basically arguing that the president — any president — is really a lawless dictator who’s free to do whatever they want.

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Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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