Alan Dershowitz: Trump did not obstruct justice in firing James Comey

An absurd argument is now being put forward by some Democratic ideologues: namely that President Trump engaged in the crime of obstructing justice by firing FBI Director James Comey. Whatever one may think of the president’s decision to fire Comey as a matter of policy, there is absolutely no basis for concluding that the president engaged in a crime by exercising his statutory and constitutional authority to fire Comey. As Comey himself wrote in his letter to the FBI, no one should doubt the authority of the president to fire the director for any reason or no reason.

It simply cannot be a crime for a public official, whether the president or anyone else, to exercise his or her statutory and constitutional authority to hire or fire another public official. For something to be a crime there must be both an actus reus and mens rea – that is, a criminal act accompanied by a criminal state of mind. Even assuming that Trump was improperly motivated in firing Comey, motive alone can never constitute a crime. There must be an unlawful act. And exercising constitutional and statutory power cannot be the actus reus of a crime.