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Dershowitz: Obstruction Charges on Trump Would Bring 'Constitutional Crisis'

Dershowitz: Obstruction Charges on Trump Would Bring 'Constitutional Crisis'
(AP)

By    |   Monday, 04 December 2017 09:01 AM

If Congress charged President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice for firing former FBI Director James Comey, that would trigger a constitutional crisis, Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz argued Monday.

"I think if Congress ever were to charge him with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, we'd have a constitutional crisis," Dershowitz told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" program.  

"You cannot charge a president with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and to tell the Justice Department who to investigate and who not to investigate."

His comments were in response to those made by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who on Sunday told NBC News' "Meet the Press" program "what we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice."

President Donald Trump was quick to weigh in on Dershowitz' opinion, tweeting that the interview was a "must watch."

Dershowitz further commented that presidents throughout the nation's history have exercised their constitutional powers on investigations, said Dershowitz.

"We have precedents that clearly establish that," he said. "When George Bush, the first, pardoned Caspar Weinberger in order to end the investigation that would have led to him, nobody suggested obstruction of justice."

To bring such charges, there must be evidence of "clearly illegal acts," Dershowitz continued.

"With [Richard] Nixon, hush money was paid," he said, "[There was] telling people to lie, destroying evidence. Even with [Bill] Clinton they said that he tried to influence potential witnesses not to tell the truth. But there's never been a case in history where a president has been charged with obstruction of justice for merely exercising his constitutional authority."

Dershowitz said that he hopes special counsel Robert Mueller, who is in charge of the probe into possible links between Russia and Trump's 2016 campaign, does not press charges against the president.

"That would cause a constitutional crisis in the United States, and I hope Mueller doesn't do that," said Dershowitz. "Sen. Feinstein simply doesn't know what she's talking about, when she says it's obstruction of justice, to do what a president is completely authorized to do under the Constitution."

Trump also has the authority to speak to members of Congress, ask that the investigation be wrapped up, said Dershowitz, but Congress has the power to invoke the Constitution's provision for separation of powers.

"You can't have obstruction of justice by each party exercising their authority," said Dershowitz. "The president could have pardoned [former national security adviser] Michael Flynn if he were really thinking about trying to end this investigation."

Had that happened, Flynn would not have cooperated with the prosecution, or had been indicted, said Dershowitz.

"I think the fact that the president hasn't pardoned Flynn, even though he has the power to do so, is very good evidence there's no obstruction of justice going on here," he added.

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If Congress charged President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice for firing former FBI Director James Comey, that would trigger a constitutional crisis, Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz argued Monday.
dershowitz, obstruction, trump, constitutional, crisis
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2017-01-04
Monday, 04 December 2017 09:01 AM
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