To be sure, there’s lots of evidence of collusion and obstruction. It’s in a nice, neat pile — right next to Barack Obama’s One True Birth Certificate.
The Right had its Birther movement which wasted lots of time and effort, and cost a lot of credibility. The Left now has its Trump-Russia movement, which is determined to do the same for its side.
Assume, for argument’s sake, that the President had said the following to Comey: “You are no longer authorized to investigate Flynn because I have decided to pardon him.” Would that exercise of the president’s constitutional power to pardon constitute a criminal obstruction of justice? Of course not. Presidents do that all the time.
The first President Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger, his Secretary of Defense, in the middle of an investigation that could have incriminated Bush. That was not an obstruction and neither would a pardon of Flynn have been a crime. A president cannot be charged with a crime for properly exercising his constitutional authority
For the same reason President Trump cannot be charged with obstruction for firing Comey, which he had the constitutional authority to do.
The Comey statement suggests that one reason the President fired him was because of his refusal or failure to publicly announce that the FBI was not investigating Trump personally. Trump “repeatedly” told Comey to “get that fact out,” and he did not.
If that is true, it is certainly not an obstruction of justice.
Nor is it an obstruction of justice to ask for loyalty from the director of the FBI, who responded “you will get that (‘honest loyalty’) from me.”
Comey understood that he and the President may have understood that vague phrase — “honest loyalty” — differently. But no reasonable interpretation of those ambiguous words would give rise to a crime. Many Trump opponents were hoping that the Comey statement would provide smoking guns.
It has not.
Instead it has weakened an already weak case for obstruction of justice.
The statement may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, but unless they are willing to stretch Comey’s words and take Trump’s out of context, and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguards in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.
The first casualty of partisan efforts to “get” a political opponent — whether Republicans going after Clinton or Democrats going after Trump — is often civil liberties. All Americans who care about the Constitution and civil liberties must join together to protest efforts to expand existing criminal law to get political opponents.
Today it is Trump. Yesterday it was Clinton. Tomorrow it could be you.