It took a full 24 hours for President Donald Trump to respond to the news that Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, would cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as part of a plea deal. But eventually, Trump took to Twitter and claimed he “had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” Observers immediately pointed out that Trump had just implied he was aware that Flynn lied to the FBI when the president told James Comey, who met with him the day after Flynn resigned, that he hoped the then FBI director would be “letting Flynn go.” To some, this strengthened the case against Trump for obstruction of justice.
President Trump’s private lawyer, John Dowd, said on Monday morning that he had authored the tweet, but insisted it was “ignorant and arrogant” to say the tweet admitted obstruction. Dowd then went one step further, claiming the president “cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”
POLITICO Magazine asked law school professors, practicing attorneys and other legal experts to analyze Dowd’s claims. From a legal standpoint, can the president obstruct justice? If he can, does it constitute obstruction of justice for the president to ask his FBI director to go easy on an aide he knew had lied to the FBI? Here is what the experts think.