President Donald Trump can’t be charged for obstruction of justice for committing acts that are within his constitutional duties, but it’s not correct to say that a president can never commit obstruction, former U.S. Attorney and National Review contributing editor Andy McCarthy said Monday.
“I think they are correct in saying that a president can’t be cited for obstruction for committing acts that are within his constitutional prerogative to commit,” McCarthy told Fox News’ Fox and Friends, while answering claims in a confidential letter from Trump’s attorneys to special counsel Robert Mueller.
In the letter, reported in The New York Times on Saturday, the president’s attorneys argued in January that Trump could not have obstructed justice because, as the nation’s chief executive, he has full authority over all federal investigations.
“I buy it in connection with the things that Trump is actually accused of,” said McCarthy. “I think the position to say a president can never commit obstruction, we know that’s wrong because the [Richard] Nixon and [Bill] Clinton impeachment involve things like illegal acts like subordination and bribery of witnesses. I think those are legitimate grounds for investigating a president for obstruction.”
However, the accusations against Trump “involve legal action, basically removing the FBI director and weighing in on whether [former National Security Adviser Michael] Flynn should be prosecuted,” said McCarthy.
“He is allowed to do that, and Mueller, as an interior executive officer, doesn’t have any place inquiring into legal acts of the president, on the grounds that he thinks the intention might not be proper.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy argues in his latest National Review column that the story that former Trump aide George Papadopoulos’ conversation was the catalyst for the Russia investigation should be looked at again.
“First of all, we know that they [the FBI] didn’t even talk to Papadopoulos until a week after Trump was already in office,” McCarthy said Monday. “So if he’s the guy who seven months before ticked off the investigation that’s peculiar…the narrative here is that Papadopoulos, as a member of the Trump campaign, is reached out to by agents of Russia. They tell him that the Kremlin has thousands of Hillary Clinton emails and they might be willing to use them to damage her in connection with the campaign.”
What needs to be known is if the people with whom Papadopoulos were actually Russian agents, or if he had reason to believe they might be, said McCarthy.
“The other question is, did they really tell him that the Russians had emails?” said McCarthy. “First of all, they never saw the email. Secondly, we have reason to doubt that they knew anything about what the Kremlin actually had. And third, did the word ’emails’ actually get mentioned.”
The word is used in the charges against Papadopoulos, said McCarthy, and when he pleaded guilty, “but the people that Papadopoulos spoke to, particularly this Australian ambassador, don’t say he said emails or dirt. They said information damaging to Clinton.”
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