Trump Lawyers: A President Cannot Obstruct Justice

This Sunday, George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one with President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to discuss the Trump team's strategy in the Mueller investigation.

"The true extent of presidential power has not been tested because most presidents have avoided going to the outer extent of that power", Harry Sandick, a former prosecutor with the US attorney for the Southern District of NY and now a white-collar defense lawyer, said in a telephone interview.

"He's not, but he probably does".

Giuliani said Sekulow was misinformed about the Trump Tower meeting, which in any case was not that significant. Giuliani based that claim on his reading of the Constitution, and the fact that the Attorney General is appointed by the President (though AG Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation). It would be an open question. "It would be an open question, but gosh, I think it would probably get answered by, 'Gosh, that's what the Constitution says, and if you want to change it, change it'".


Mueller's team is looking into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation, and that Trump subsequently attempted to obstruct the investigation. They also asserted that "he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired". He said that Trump wants to testify but that Giuliani and his team are leaning against recommending that.

As far as a presidential indictment is concerned, legal experts generally agree a president can be indicted, but like Giuliani pointed out, it's the "when" that matters - with some believing it would have to take place once a president left office.

He has requested an interview with the president over obstruction of justice. They have to make a decision without him.

They also argued that he could not have committed obstruction because he has absolute authority over all federal investigations. The special counsel's investigation centers on accusations of collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian Federation.


What about the political ramifications?

Trump's team has asked for a briefing about the informant, but Giuliani said Sunday that the president would not order the Justice Department to comply because it would negatively affect public opinion.

"I mean, this is the reason you don't let the president testify", he added.

In a column on Sunday morning, Vox's Matthew Yglesias characterized the memo from Trump's legal team as "a recipe for tyranny" and a "clear and present danger to the rule of law". "It's wrong", Christie, a former US attorney, said.


Jed Shugerman, a Fordham University Law School professor, said raising the idea of pardons could be read as a warning to Mueller that if he pushes to subpoena Trump, the president could escalate the fight by pardoning people under investigation.

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