The NY Times drops a copy of a Trump regime memo to Special Counsel Robert Mueller written back in January that asserts that Mueller has no power to subpoena Donald Trump, and that Trump has absolute power over the investigation into his own malfeasance.
President Trump’s lawyers have for months quietly waged a campaign to keep the special counsel from trying to force him to answer questions in the investigation into whether he obstructed justice, asserting that he cannot be compelled to testify and arguing in a confidential letter that he could not possibly have committed obstruction because he has unfettered authority over all federal investigations.
In a brash assertion of presidential power, the 20-page letter — sent to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and obtained by The New York Times — contends that the president cannot illegally obstruct any aspect of the investigation into Russia’s election meddling because the Constitution empowers him to, “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”
[Read the Trump lawyers’ confidential memo to Mr. Mueller here.]
Mr. Trump’s lawyers fear that if he answers questions, either voluntarily or in front of a grand jury, he risks exposing himself to accusations of lying to investigators, a potential crime or impeachable offense.
Mr. Trump’s broad interpretation of executive authority is novel and is likely to be tested if a court battle ensues over whether he could be ordered to answer questions. It is unclear how that fight, should the case reach that point, would play out. A spokesman for Mr. Mueller declined to comment.
“We don’t know what the law is on the intersection between the obstruction statutes and the president exercising his constitutional power to supervise an investigation in the Justice Department,” said Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who oversaw the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration. “It’s an open question.”
Hand-delivered to the special counsel’s office in January and written by two of the president’s lawyers at the time, John M. Dowd and Jay A. Sekulow, the letter offers a rare glimpse into one side of the high-stakes negotiations over a presidential interview.
Though it is written as a defense of the president, the letter recalls the tangled drama of early 2017 as the new administration dealt with the Russia investigation. It also serves as a reminder that in weighing an obstruction case, Mr. Mueller is reviewing actions and conversations involving senior White House officials, including the president, the vice president and the White House counsel.
The letter also lays out a series of claims that foreshadow a potential subpoena fight that could unfold in the months leading into November’s midterm elections.
“We are reminded of our duty to protect the president and his office,” the lawyers wrote, making their case that Mr. Mueller has the information he needs from tens of thousands of pages of documents they provided and testimony by other witnesses, obviating the necessity for a presidential interview.
The problem with such an argument is that it assumes the Executive cannot be checked by any power in the Executive, only by the Judicial or the Legislative, and that describes a country where the president is above the law. Trump is now resorting to not only attacking his critics openly on Twitter, and at rallies, but now he's using the Oval Office's weekly address to attack Democrats directly.
In his weekly address, Trump blamed Democrats for slow-walking many of his nominees through the confirmation process, saying that Senate Democrats had "shamelessly obstructed" hundreds of qualified picks.
"Senate Democrats call it 'the resistance,' " he said.
"From day one, Senate Democrats have shamelessly obstructed, stalled, and filibustered the confirmations of hundreds of talented men and women who are eager to come to Washington, D.C., to make a difference," he said. "They want to serve our country."
Trump also blasted the party's opposition to his hard-line demands on border security and immigration. He said that Democrats were withholding support for his policies because the party is "afraid it’s going to make me and the Republicans look good."
"They have blocked every effort to close deadly loopholes, to keep out vicious criminals, and to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs," Trump said. "They are a disaster at the border."
"These actions are endangering our citizens, threatening our communities, and undermining our national security," he continued.
Pay very, very close attention to that last part. In just the last few days, the President has declared that foreign trade practices by our closest allies like Canada constituted a national security threat that required action through punitive tariffs. His EPA has determined that solar and wind power are national security threats that require America to force utilities to buy coal and nuclear power.
Now he has determined that Democrats are "undermining our national security" along with critics, and he has asserted absolute power over the investigation into his campaign.
He will soon take action against those critics. Very soon, I fear.