“The facts are disturbing and compelling on the President’s intent to obstruct justice… Under our Constitution, equal justice requires that he forfeit his office.”
Those are the words of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but they aren’t about President Trump’s crimes. They are part of his speech laying out the “moral” argument for removing President Clinton from office in 1998, and they are coming back to haunt him now.
Since Trump tweeted what effectively amounts to a confession of obstruction of justice, the legal defense has shifted to arguing that because the president is the president, obstruction of justice is not a crime that he can commit.
John Dowd, Trump’s personal lawyer, told Axios “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”
The defense, a contradiction of Sessions’ two-decades old statement, is right out of President Nixon’s playbook:
At the time, it was obviously not an effective rationale, but in light of Sessions’ own words, they could backfire even more this time.
According to the official Senate record, Sessions said, “The president intentionally lied to aides in an effort to have them mislead the public and the grand jury. This is to me a clear pattern of obstruction of justice.”
Sessions own words are as clear an indictment of Trump as any as well as a clear sign of their rampant hypocrisy and corruption.
While Sessions motives are and were purely political (and as always, at least a little racist), he got it right when he said that a president should be held accountable for intentionally flouting justice.
And so should his Attorney General.