If Trump Broke the Law, It’s Likely Only Congress Can Act

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Evidence is increasing that President Trump used his position to obstruct an FBI investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia. Whether Congress chooses to act on that evidence is an open question, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Former FBI Director James Comey, fired by Trump last month, will tell senators today that the president asked him for his loyalty at a Jan. 27 dinner and then, in a Feb. 14 Oval Office meeting, pressured Comey to abandon the FBI’s investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy,” Comey recalls Trump saying. “I hope you can let this go.”

Legal experts say that if his account is true, Comey’s statement looks a lot like evidence that Trump obstructed justice. “That is the president pressuring the FBI director into ending an investigation,” said Elizabeth Goitein, a former Senate counsel now at the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program at NYU School of Law. “That on the face of it looks like obstruction of justice.” Former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg said Comey’s statement, released in advance of testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, “combined with a lot of other information we are hearing … makes a plausible case for obstruction.” Still, the U.S. Constitution is unclear whether federal prosecutors can charge a president with breaking the law.  Some Democrats have called for Trump’s impeachment, but with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, it is unlikely such proceedings would advance in the near term, with Senate and House investigations in their early stages.

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