Trump and His Lawyers Embrace a Vision of Vast Executive Power

He added: “They are saying not simply that the president is above the regulation, however in impact that he is the regulation — that he’s the personification of justice and can’t impede himself. That may be very stark and not very persuasive.”

The constitutional idea Mr. Trump’s group has put ahead isn’t his first line of protection. They even have mustered factual claims, denying wrongdoing and arguing that as a technical matter, a specific obstruction statute didn’t apply to his actions. (The memo, nevertheless, seemed to be targeted on the incorrect statute, rendering the statutory arguments irrelevant.)

But the Trump group is invoking its aggressive constitutional idea to backstop its different arguments. Even although Congress has made it a crime to impede a pending or potential grand-jury investigation or trial with corrupt intentions, they stated, that statute can’t be utilized to Mr. Trump, it doesn’t matter what the proof exhibits about his actions and intentions.

Both Nixon and President Bill Clinton had been accused of obstruction of justice by lawmakers as half of impeachment proceedings, drawing on proof dropped at mild by prosecutors who, moderately than charging them with crimes, despatched experiences to the House Judiciary Committee for impeachment consideration. But the actions these presidents had been accused of — like witness tampering or suborning perjury — weren’t an train of their official powers as president.

The novel problem raised by the investigation into Mr. Trump — assuming Mr. Mueller has not uncovered proof of different obstructive actions that’s not but public — is whether or not Congress could make it a crime for him to make use of his energy over the regulation enforcement system with a corrupt goal, even when it could in any other case be lawful for him to take such steps.

“Put simply,” Mr. Kasowitz wrote final June, “the Constitution leaves no question that the president has exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations.”

He added that “while there are various political checks and balances that would inform the president’s exercise of this authority as a prudential matter, and various norms have developed over the years as a result of those checks and balances, none of these diminish the president’s ultimate constitutional authority over investigations and prosecutions.”

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