Consider a few facts: President Trump has the constitutional authority to make this demand. The idea that the president doesn’t interfere in law-enforcement investigative matters is one of our deep normative expectations of the modern presidency. But it is not a matter of law. Legally, if the president of the United States wants to direct the specific conduct of investigations, that is his constitutional prerogative. If Trump wants to corruptly direct the conduct of an investigation in order to out an FBI source who was helping our government investigate Russian interference in our electoral processes, well, Article II of the Constitution begins with these terrifying words: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”
To paraphrase Justice Scalia, the term “the Executive Power” does not mean some of that power or most of it; it means all of it. That includes the power to tell the Justice Department what to investigate. And while the misuse of that power for corrupt purposes is a gross abuse of power that would warrant the president’s impeachment and removal from office, I have no doubt that he has the raw power to do it—if only because he has the power to fire people who refuse to obey his directives.