Scandal in the Whitehouse?
Can a president be charged for obstructing justice?
Joan Biskupic, CNN Legal Analyst and Supreme Court Biographer, wrote in a recent article that president Donald Trump’s Lawyer believes the president cannot be charged for obstruction of justice.
John Dowd, Trump’s personal lawyer made the new assertion that “a president can never be guilty of obstructing justice because he is the country's top law enforcement officer” and recalls Richard Nixon's remark that "when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” These remarks intensify the debate over whether a sitting president can be indicted.
In her article, Biskupic says, “Whether a president can be criminally charged -- for any offense -- has never been tested in the courts. But presidents have been subject to obstruction-of-justice charges in impeachment proceedings. And there is no question that a president can be removed for, as the US Constitution dictates, any ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’”
Impeachment is a political process that comes down to votes: a majority in the US House of Representatives to impeach and a two-thirds vote of the US Senate to convict.
Biskupic also finds that comparisons to the Nixon scandal have been rife recent months. In Watergate, Nixon was not criminally charged but was named as an unindicted co-conspirator and pressured to resign with impeachment charges looming.
Former FBI Director James Comey, who oversaw the Department of Justice probe related to Russian interference in the 2016 election before being fired by Trump in May, said Trump had asked him to stop pursuing Flynn.
However, a deal between special counsel Robert Mueller and Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn ramped up controversy over whether Trump had known Flynn had lied to the FBI, as Flynn pleaded guilty to last Friday, and perhaps tried to interfere with the federal investigation of Flynn.
The deal involved Flynn pleading guilty. He also acknowledged that his actions "were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.”
"My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions," he said.
Flynn is the fourth person connected to Trump's campaign to be charged as part of Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump's team, as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.
Michael Flynn is facing maximum sentence of five years in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines.