Laurence H. Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, writes in an op-ed article that the "time has come for Congress to launch an impeachment investigation of President Trump for obstruction of justice." While claiming that there were already grounds for impeachment before President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, the firing represents the last straw for Professor Tribe.
Professor Tribe concedes that "Comey’s summary firing will not stop the inquiry" into alleged ties between President Trump's campaign and Russian officials that may have amounted to collusion for the purpose of influencing the outcome of last year's presidential election. Nevertheless, Tribe argues, the circumstances surrounding Comey's dismissal, the varying explanations offered by President Trump's aides to justify it until the president himself "exposed his true motivation" during an NBC interview, and the president's tweets, including "a none-too-subtle threat that Comey would regret any decision to disseminate his version of his conversations with Trump," amount to impeachable obstruction of justice.
Professor Tribe mistakenly elevates President Trump’s impetuousness and loose rhetoric, which are legitimate bases for criticizing the president, to the level of impeachable offenses. The Constitution specifies the grounds for impeachment as "treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors." Professor Tribe has not alleged that President Trump engaged in treason or bribery. However, he seeks to use the umbrella of "other high crimes and misdemeanors" to cover what he claims is evidence of the president’s abuse of power, particularly alleged obstruction of justice. The only problem is that Tribe relies on actions, however ill-advised, that are well within President Trump’s legal authority and right to perform and do not come anywhere close to actual obstruction of justice.
President Trump acted within his legal authority in firing Comey whenever he sought fit. Some Democrats, as well as Republicans, have been pressing for Comey’s removal ever since his infamous July 5, 2016, press conference exonerating Hillary Clinton of any wrong-doing and his subsequent re-opening of the e-mail investigation. The president might have been better served if he had fired Comey right after the inauguration, or if he had waited until the Department of Justice inspector general completed his report on Comey’s handling of the e-mail investigation. But bad timing in exercising legitimate presidential authority does not constitute obstruction of justice.
Whatever mistaken reasons his out-of-the loop communications team offered for the firing, President Trump was transparent as to his motives during press interviews and in his tweets. He felt that Comey was obsessing on the months-old investigation of alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, which has yielded no known evidence of criminal collusion after all this time, to the exclusion of an investigation into the leaks of classified information, which do constitute criminal acts on their face. Tribe has not pointed to a single shred of evidence that the president directed a slowdown of the Russian investigation, cut back on the resources available for conducting a thorough investigation, or blocked access to documents or other evidence which the FBI investigators were entitled to review.
Indeed, the Acting FBI Director Andrew G. McCabe told a congressional committee last week that that the FBI had sufficient resources to continue its investigation, and that the FBI’s work would continue smoothly. He confirmed that the lead FBI agent overseeing the investigation was still in place as well as "almost all of the agents involved in the investigation." In response to a question whether there has been any curtailment of the FBI's activities in the investigation since Director Comey was fired, McCabe responded that "we don't curtail our activities." He added, "I strongly believe that the Russian investigation is adequately resourced."
Professor Tribe makes a big deal out of some of President Trump’s more provocative tweets. But they followed Comey’s firing to explain the president’s reasons for taking that action and, in addition to sharply criticizing Comey’s performance, at most constitute a warning to Comey as a private citizen not to leak misinformation to the press. The last time I checked, the president of the United States does not forfeit his First Amendment right of free expression upon taking office. However, if the White House does have tapes of President Trump’s conversations with Comey, it should turn them over promptly to Congress and the FBI investigators.
Before Professor Tribe became nationally known as a scholar in constitutional law, he taught a class on evidence which I took while a student at Harvard Law School. It is disappointing that he would now rely on such flimsy circumstantial evidence to recommend a course of action certain to create a constitutional crisis and paralyze the federal government at a time of grave threats to our national security.
Joseph A. Klein is a featured author for FrontPage Magazine and the United Nations correspondent for Canada Free Press. He has also authored the books "Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom" and "Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam." Klein, a Harvard Law school alumnus and practicing attorney, has been a guest on many radio shows as a commentator and has appeared on several TV shows including "Fox & Friends." For more of this reports — Click Here Now.
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