Famed legal expert Alan Dershowitz dismissed rumors of a case of obstruction of justice supposedly mounting against President Donald Trump. Dershowitz said that Democrats are engaging in "hope over reality." His remarks followed an appearance on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said that a Senate investigation into alleged meddling by Russia in the 2016 presidential election has revealed possible obstruction.
Feinstein said, "I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House, the comments every day, the continual tweets. And I see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of Director Comey, and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to ‘lift the cloud’ of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice.”
On Monday, Dershowitz said on "Fox & Friends" that the president was constitutionally enabled to dismiss FBI Director James Comey and to command the Department of Justice who to investigate. "If Congress were ever to charge him with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, we'd have a constitutional crisis," Dershowitz said. He is a lifelong Democrat.
The former Harvard professor said that Congress would have to demonstrate "clearly illegal acts" on the part of the president. An example he cited was the “hush money” paid by Richard Nixon, who instructed his staff to lie and destroy evidence during the Watergate scandal.
"There's never been a case in history where a president has been charged with obstruction of justice for merely exercising his constitutional authority. That would cause a constitutional crisis in the United States," Dershowitz said. Dershowitz said he hopes Special Counsel Robert Mueller understands that a constitutional crisis may ensue should he bring an indictment or recommend that the matter be referred to Congress. "And Sen. Feinstein simply doesn't know what she's talking about when she says it's obstruction of justice to do what a president is completely authorized to do under the Constitution."
If Trump had wanted to obstruct Special Counsel Mueller’s probe, Dershowitz said that he could have pardoned former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to prevent him from cooperating. "The president would have had the complete authority do so and Flynn never would have been indicted, never would have turned as a witness against him," said Dershowitz.
A must watch: Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz was just on @foxandfriends talking of what is going on with respect to the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. political history. Enjoy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2017
Trump signaled his approval of Dershowitz's analysis, tweeting on Monday: "A must watch: Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz was just on Fox & Friends talking of what is going on with respect to the greatest witch hunt in U.S. political history. Enjoy!"
However, Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano appeared to support Feinstein’s contention. Speaking on "America's Newsroom," Napolitano said that if Trump had asked Comey to end the investigation into Flynn for a non-corrupt purpose, it could not be considered obstruction. However, said Napolitano, if Trump did so for a corrupt purpose - (e.g. to protect himself or son-in-law Jared Kushner) -- then it is obstruction and there is no presidential immunity. "Obstruction of justice is a crime no matter who commits it, if done for a corrupt purpose. It's also an impeachable offense," the former judge said, adding that the charge is "intentionally not easy to prove" for a prosecutor.