Editor’s Note 11:30 Am: There were two titles on this article, one was incorrect (titles are filled in at the top and bottom of a post, the bottom is filled in automatically and doesn’t update with changes but it is the one used on some social media). The Senators said Trump could be, not is, guilty of obstruction of justice. This has been corrected.
President Donald Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to special counsel Robert Mueller in January, arguing that the president could not have possibly obstructed justice because he has constitutional authority over all federal investigations.
The letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, argues that the Constitution gives Trump the broad authority to, “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, speaking to reporters in the capital, had this to say:
“I will tell you my own view is it is entirely possible for a president to obstruct justice. If a president committed perjury to lie to or mislead investigators, if he encouraged others to, if he destroyed evidence.”
I can think of lots of ways a president could obstruct justice.”
Toomey, however, did not comment directly on the lawyer letter published by the Times.
Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina told reporters they should speak to legal counsel about Trump’s lawyers arguments. He did say, however, that “I think anybody in our system can obstruct justice.”
Other Republican senators made reference to President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial during which the Senate tried to convict him of obstruction of justice.
Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama is one of several GOP senators still in office who at that ime voted that Clinton was guilty of obstructing justice. So when he was asked if he thought a president could obstruct justice, Shelby said: “There’s a precedent there obviously. I’ve always said I didn’t think anybody is above or below the law.”
Some current GOP senators were in the House of Representatives during the Clinton impeachment.
One is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who was one of the House impeachment managers. Graham said he thinks that obstructing justice could be an impeachable offense.
“Well you can be impeached for obstructing justice, that’s what we did with Clinton. Whether or not he can be charged criminally, while he’s in office? I don’t know,” Graham said.
Graham was also asked what his advice would be to Trump on the topic of obstructing justice. In response he said, “Number one, I advise everybody from president to the people operating the elevator, don’t obstruct justice.”
Senator John Thune of South Dakota would not answer when asked if he thought Trump could obstruct justice. “I’m not sure I know the answer to that. I know that’s a constitutional argument they’re making,” Thune said.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas was also asked but he just said, “I don’t think there’s any evidence of obstruction so I don’t think there’s any basis for that.”
Meanwhile Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa spoke out against President Donald Trump’s Monday tweet where he said that he had the “absolute right to pardon” himself if convicted of a crime. Grassley made clear that he disagreed with the president.
“If I were president of the United States and I had a lawyer that said I could pardon myself, I think I would hire a new lawyer,” Grassley said.
Here’s Grassley responding to question on whether he agrees with Trump that he could pardon himself https://t.co/dswhL5kiW1
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 4, 2018
It appears that Republicans in the Senate are continuing to distance themselves politically from Donald Trump, and this is just one more bad sign for the president.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.