My Tuesday post said Fox News legal analyst and former judge Andrew Napolitano’s belief that President Trump had committed obstruction of justice, while famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz disagreed. That’s all true, but one statement in the piece was out of date by the time it got posted.
Dershowitz argued that even if Trump did use various leverages available to presidents to try to squelch the Mueller investigation into his various alleged improper acts, it wouldn’t constitute the crime of obstruction of justice as long as Trump’s allegedly obstructive acts were limited to actions within his legal powers as president, like, for example, firing people that are within his power to fire; or telling people, who are within his power to boss around, to do things that would be illegal.
That’s all still true, as to what they both said.
But Napolitano made his argument in a video on the internet, albeit linked to Fox News, and my post said that Fox had not yet given Napolitano time on their air to make that argument. That was wrong by the time the post ran on Tuesday.
On Monday, Fox aired a segment allowing Dershowitz to make the same argument, and then allowing Napolitano to reply (fairly convincingly, in my view) that even attempting to obstruct an ongoing law enforcement investigation into a crime is itself a crime, even if the act of obstruction isn’t carried out.
For example, if, as the Mueller investigation found, Trump told various subordinates to fire Mueller in order to sabotage the investigation into Trump’s other possible crimes (like alleged conspiracy with a foreign power to interfere in the U.S. election), then he committed the crime of obstruction, even if (as Mueller ultimately concluded) there is insufficient evidence to charge you with the crime of conspiracy.
If you’d like to watch Dershowitz and Napolitano make their arguments: