On Saturday, the New York Times published two confidential memos President Donald Trump’s legal team sent to Special Counsel Robert Mueller last year and earlier this year. The memos argue, among other things, that one facet of the Justice Department’s investigation of Trump – whether the president tried to obstruct the probe itself – isn’t viable because the president has such broad constitutional authority to end the investigation or pardon those targeted by it that presidential obstruction simply can’t exist.
The first memo, written shortly after Mueller’s appointment, offers an almost unfettered view of some of the powers the nation’s chief law enforcement official enjoys:
“Put simply, the Constitution leaves no question that the President has exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations. Thus, as set forth more fully below, as a matter of law and common sense, the President cannot obstruct himself or subordinates acting on his behalf by simply exercising these inherent Constitutional powers.”