Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told NBC News’ Meet the Press on Sunday that Congress is building a case that President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey in May.
NBC’s Chuck Todd pressed Feinstein as if it were obvious that the president had obstructed justice. He based his claim on a memorandum by former national security aide K. T. McFarland, who wrote during the transition that Russia “has just thrown U.S.A. election to him,” though in context it was clear she was referring, half-mockingly, to claims by the Democratic Party.
He also cited a tweet by Trump on Saturday, where the president said, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI,” which Democrats cited as proof of obstruction — though there was no evidence that Trump had tried to stop the investigation into Flynn even if he knew his crime.
Feinstein, the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Todd (transcript via NBC News):
I think, what we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice. I think we see this in the indictments, the four indictments and pleas that have just taken place, and some of the comments that are being made. I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House: the comments every day, the continual tweets. And I see it, most importantly, in what happened with the firing of Director Comey and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice.
Legal scholars such as Alan Dershowitz argue that an obstruction of justice charge would be absurd if based solely on Trump’s conversations with Comey, which Comey recorded in memoranda, which he admitted to Congress he had leaked to the press specifically to trigger a Special Counsel investigaiton.
“You cannot charge a president with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and his constitutional authority to tell the Justice Department who to investigate, who not to investigate,” Dershowitz said Monday on Fox & Friends.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.