Trump’s lawyers are preemptively making the argument that the president can’t obstruct justice, which means that they are laying out a legal defense in the expectation that charges are coming concerning the Russia scandal.
The “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,” Dowd claims.
Trump’s legal team is clearly setting the stage to say the president cannot be charged with any of the core crimes discussed in the Russia probe: collusion and obstruction. Presumably, you wouldn’t preemptively make these arguments unless you felt there was a chance charges are coming.
A lawyer wouldn’t be offering a defense before anything has been filed unless they are trying to get out in front of charges that are coming.
The White House has gone from saying that there is nothing to the Russia scandal to claiming that the President can’t be charged with a crime. They’ve gone from screaming witchhunt to arguing that even if he broke the law, Trump can’t be charged.
There is no clear answer to the question of whether or not a sitting president can be charged with a crime, but if Robert Mueller finds evidence that Trump did commit a crime, Donald Trump is done as president. He may try to fight and stick around for as long as possible, but if he makes it to 2020, he won’t win a second term.
If the Special Counsel’s report comes before the 2018 midterm, Democrats could take back all of Congress.
Either way, Trump’s lawyers are signaling that they are preparing for criminal charges, which means that the Russia scandal is about to take over American politics.