At the beginning of Mueller’s investigation, Trump’s legal team had an academic discussion over whether a president could obstruct justice by firing the FBI director, said a person familiar with the conversations. Comey told Congress that Trump had asked him to go easy on Flynn, a conversation that happened several weeks before the firing.
Trump’s lawyers determined that most legal scholars would say that a presidential firing couldn’t be seen as obstruction unless there was a corrupt motive, since the president has the power to fire whomever he wants, the person said. The lawyers also made the case that firing Comey did nothing to stop the investigation.
But there was never a broader discussion early on about whether the president could obstruct justice in any matter, the person said.