As conflicting accounts of what led to James Comey’s firing linger and questions remain as to which equally troubling account of the dinner President Donald Trump had with the then-FBI director are accurate, one constitutional law expert has declared the developments “staggering” and evidence of “a series of high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Speaking Thursday to MSNBC‘s Lawrence O’Donnell, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe said that Trump directly asking Comey if he was under investigation, as the president indicated to NBC‘s Lester Holt during a “kryptonite” interview, “is much worse than just a conflict of interest.”
“You’re essentially dangling in front of the person who’s supposed to be investigating the chaos swirling around you, and perhaps you, you’re basically saying, ‘If you will assure me that I’m not going to be under investigation, then maybe I’ll keep you on. We’ll see what happens.’ It’s essentially the language of bribery. It’s the language of the underworld, of racketeering, not the language of a president who is supposed to be enforcing the rule of law,” he said.
“It’s staggering—for all the bizarre things that have happened in these 112 or 113 days, this is really like the 13th chime of a clock,” Tribe continued.
As for the New York Times reporting on presumably the same one-one-one event which indicates Trump asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to the president, Tribe again said, “It’s staggering. That is clearly, on its face, obstruction of justice.”
“In this case, what loyalty means […] is ‘Can I count on you to not to make me a target of this investigation?'” Tribe said. “That’s clearly an impermissible question. So either Trump’s own account of the discussion is true, in which case he’s guilty of obstruction of justice in one respect. Or much more likely Comey’s account is true […] in which case again Trump is guilty again of attempting to suborn obstruction of justice. Either way, as with the first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon, this is a series of high crimes and misdemeanors regardless of whether Trump was or was not part of a collusive plot with Russia to steal an American election.”
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