Early in the Watergate story, Nixon wanted Ehrlichman and Haldeman to get the CIA to tell the FBI to back away from its investigation by stating to the FBI that matters of national security were involved. This was a blatant abuse of Presidential power.
Now it needs to be determined whether President Trump is abusing his power by giving pretext reasons for firing James Comey when President Trump's real reason is to impede the Russia investigation and whether the same can be obstruction of justice by President Trump.
As with Watergate, responsibility will primarily devolve on Congress to uphold the rule of law and checks and balances and to oppose Presidential abuse of power. This will not be easy because it involves reaching conclusions about what were President Trump's true reasons for firing Comey and what are pretext reasons.
There is good basis to think that Senators Shelby and Strange and Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, and Palmer will not be up to fulfilling their responsibilities as members of Congress to uphold the rule of law and checks and balance and to oppose Presidential abuse of power in the Comey firing.
If Senators Shelby and Strange and Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, and Palmer wish to begin to show that they are up to the foregoing task, the starting point would be for them to issue statements about Comey's firing. In doing that, they might consider the statement that Rep. Trey Gowdy issued yesterday, which is set forth below.
In his farewell letter to the FBI, Comey said, "I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all." This needs clarification concerning whether President Trump could fire Comey for the purpose of impeding the Russia investigation but that there is a separate question of "wrongfulness" that Comey himself cannot raise to resist his firing but that can be an abuse of power and obstruction of justice for which the President may be held accountable either criminally or as an impeachable offense. It is believed that the latter is the case. Review of the Nixon articles of impeachement supports that the latter is the case. Opinion of experts will be sought on this.
The contradiction between Trump's letter firing Comey and what Trump has said in Lester Holt interview is material in judging what Trump's real reasons for firing Comey were, and whether Trump endeavored (and continues to endeavor) to deceive the American people and Congress about his real reasons by lying in putting forth pretext reasons for the firing,
Trump's letter firing Comey said:
"I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately."
In the Lester Holt interview, Trump said he made the decision to fire Comey before he met with Rosenstein on Monday and that, "Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey."
This contradiction is evidence derived soley from Trump that Trump is trying to deceive the American people and Congress about his real reasons for firing Comey. There is much other evidence not derived solely from Trump that Trump is trying to deceive the American people and Congress about his real reasons for firing Comey.
Is anything starting to sink in @SenShelby @SenatorStrange @RepByrne @RepMarthaRoby @RepMikeRogersAL? https://t.co/FJKcxgWXoM #alpolitics— Rob Shattuck (@RobShattuckAL06) May 12, 2017
Is anything starting to sink in @Robert_Aderholt @RepMoBrooks @USRepGaryPalmer? https://t.co/FJKcxgWXoM #alpolitics— Rob Shattuck (@RobShattuckAL06) May 12, 2017
In the full Lester Holt interview, Trump says "when I decided to do it [fire Comey], I said to myself 'this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost the election'." Trump further says the investigation should have been over long ago, but that "I might even lengthen out the investigation."
Inquiry to legal experts
I have sent the below email to three professors of criminal law at the University of Alabama School of Law:
From: Rob Shattuck <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, May 12, 2017 at 5:55 PM
Subject: abuse of power; obstruction of justice
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Professors Pierson, Rushin and Carroll,
I didn't receive any reply to my previous March 23rd email to you, concerning whether President Trump could have criminal liability for his public urging of the Russians and Wikileaks to release criminally obtained hacking information. See Smartest colluders.
That's ok. I understand.
I am continuing my work and am currently posting about whether Trump's firing of Comey may constitute Presidential abuse of power and obstruction of justice. See my blog entry Trey Gowdy.
If you or any other University of Alabama law professor in the criminal law or constitutional law fields wish to comment on these subjects, I will be pleased to post what you or they have to say.
In support of my purpose here, I will urge persons in the Alabama media to contact their sources of information about the above subjects in question.
Thanks for your attention.