Trump Lawyer: A President Cannot Obstruct Justice Because He Is Our Chief Law Enforcement Officer

Axios reports:

John Dowd, President Trump’s outside lawyer, outlined to me a new and highly controversial defense/theory in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice.

The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd claims.

Dowd says he drafted this weekend’s Trump tweet that many thought strengthened the case for obstruction: The tweet suggested Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he was fired, raising new questions about the later firing of FBI Director James Comey. Dowd: “The tweet did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”

  • Gustav2
    • So much this. 👆 We’ve already settled this bullshit 50 years ago. 🙄

      • Ray Taylor

        Trump was only age 25 so that ruling doesn’t apply to him. (Posted in wrong spot)

      • KevInPDX

        Actually “W” and Darth Vader administration made the same claims, “if the president does it it is legal”.

        • And they ignored us settling this bullshit 50 years ago when they did.

  • Ninja0980

    Former President Nixon says hello.

    • leastyebejudged

      He looks pretty good about now, oh how e long for the good ol’ days.

      • Xaca

        Nixon? He looks great today. Got him right where we need him. Six feet under.

        • Todd20036

          Nixon is no longer our most corrupt president.

          W is no longer our most stupid.

          Trump is winning in that competition.

  • leastyebejudged

    Well, they’re not wrong, for all practical purposes this is true, always has been.

    Somehow this crowd here doesn’t strike me as a “limited government” type crowd, lolololol.

  • netxtown

    Running the sonofabitch out of town – tarred and feathered – on a flat bed rail car isn’t obstruction of justice either, asshole.

  • Smokey

    This kind of tactic might have worked when tRump was a real estate conman; may not play so well on the national stage. Besides, it’s been tried before – San Clemente holding on line one…

  • Tawreos

    It took me less than a second to find many police officers charged with obstruction of justice. It does not surprise me that Trump’s lawyer has no connection to reality as well

    • Todd20036

      That’s Trump fault, too. When you don’t pay good lawyers who work for you, good lawyers will no longer work for you.

      So you get the dregs.

      Who cough up arguments a 6 year old might come up with.

      • Tawreos

        A 6 year old would have put more thought into

        • Or at the very least made it pretty by writing it crayon.

    • Rambie

      I’m not a lawyer and even this layman was laughing at that excuse.

    • Reality.Bites

      Indeed, I’d guess one of its primary uses is prosecution of police officers and government officials improperly exercising their powers.

  • kelven

    Don’t flail about too much Dowd, it makes it easier for people to smell your desperation.

  • Bluto
  • BeaverTales

    By historical precedent, the president can be Impeached for:

    (1)violating the Tenure of Office Act (Andrew Johnson in 1868 fired Secretary of State Edwin Stanton),
    (2)campaign espionage fuckery (Richard Nixon was threatened with impeachment before he resigned in 1974)
    (3)perjuring himself about his sexual habits (Bill Clinton in 1999).

    Trump has done all 3 of those.

    • Kruhn

      The Tenure of Office Act was repealed by a subsequent Congress and the Supreme Court partially upheld the President’s power to fire Cabinet officials. The Johnson impeachment shows that the President can be impeached for willfully violating an Act of Congress.

  • LovesIrony

    What is this justice thing of which you speak?

    • RJ Bone

      That thing that’s claimed to be ever present, but is actually more like a “barely got out of bed after a raging kegger following an epic day of ignoring the people who need it desperately” kind of thing.

  • JT

    Trump Lawyer: A President Cannot Obstruct Justice Because He Is Our Chief Law Enforcement Officer

    Total corruption. The Asshole-in-Chief is “above the law”.

  • Xaca

    And in tonight’s performance of Watergate, John Dowd will be playing the role of Rosemary Woods.

  • Karl Dubhe II

    If the president does it, it’s not illegal?

    Okay… I’m sure that’ll work for some.

    • leastyebejudged

      It happens to be technically true about many aspects of the Presidency.
      You just don’t really know that much about the subject, obviously.

      • Karl Dubhe II

        What an ironic username you employ…

        • leastyebejudged

          Clearly you are not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

        • medaka

          Been laughing about that username for a while here. It fits, innit?

          • Karl Dubhe II

            My old account had him blocked. 🙂

            I’ll just be amused, now….

          • Reality.Bites

            Ah, hadn’t noticed the “II”

            Clearly you didn’t consult me. I’d have suggested you go with “Karl Dubhe 2, Electric Boogaloo.”

            When I become President, all sequels will be required to be named in that manner. But you’ll be able to say Happy Holidays again.

            Except in December, when the federally mandated greeting shall be “Eat shit, Christianist scum.”

          • Karl Dubhe 2

            A good idea. I shall change it. Although…

            Now I’m thinking of karl dubhe 2 you… or something crazy like that.

    • Gigi

      *republican president

  • Gigi

    It appears as though Trump’s idiot lawyers will be his undoing. Fingers crossed!

  • worstcultever

    Good morning, pigs! Doug Jones is gonna win. Dumpy’s still sweating orange chemicals. Who’s to say a cosmic nightmare can’t turn on a dime?

    /morning pep club

    • greenmanTN

      Love your hair, Pollyanna. Hope you win! 😉

  • Trevor Brown

    “Dowd: “The tweet did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”” Correct. Most of his tweets ARE ignorant and arrogant assertions.

    • lymis

      The tweet did not admit obstruction. But it sure as hell implied that Trump knew things he’s claimed he never knew, at a point in the timeline where knowing it absolutely raises the specter of obstruction in his actions.

      • marshlc

        The problem with this line of reasoning is that it ignores what everyone, including his supporters, knows – that nothing Trump tweets actually means anything. That he is fully capable – indeed, it’s what he does best – of taking a half heard, half understood concept and running with it, asserting anything that he thinks, in the moment, would prop up his ego. It doesn’t matter if what he is saying now contradicts what he said two hours ago, it doesn’t matter if what he is saying is untrue, it doesn’t matter if what he is saying makes no sense.

        EVERYONE knows this. No one actually pays any real lasting attention to any of his tweets, because we all know they are nonsense. His followers will cheer them – “Ha, he really told those libtards!” – but they don’t expect them to be consequential any more than we do.

        I am positive that if it ever really does come down to him facing a court of law, and his tweets being used against him, the defence will be that clearly no reasonable person took those tweets seriously, because they are so clearly meaningless.

  • Reality.Bites

    Nonsense. That’s like saying the surgeon general can’t commit malpractice.

    (I realize the surgeon general doesn’t treat patients, but the post is still normally help by an MD who could)

    • Stogiebear

      And that argument is exactly why we have that 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

  • Michael R

    A lawyer said that.
    The ” best people ” .

  • KarenAtFOH

    We’re not going to be rid of him, are we? The American oligarchs who forced the GOP to rip us off, are running our major media, who refuse to seriously criticize this crook. Too many rich and powerful people are profiting from the destruction of our democracy.

  • Nic Peterson

    Oh. The ‘I know you are but what am I?’ Defense. So much winning!

  • Rebecca Gardner

    His lawyers are either dumber than dirt, or they know anything they say, no matter how preposterous, will be wholeheartedly accepted as fact by his idiot supporters and echoed by Fox News and the GOP.

    • Reality.Bites

      I read an article a few weeks ago that if I remember correctly said their chief duty is making him feel good and like he’s not in trouble.

    • Stogiebear

      Was this tactic when foisted by Nixon supported by any but his most rabid supporters? I know the mass of the American people were appalled and horrified when he said it. [Serious question.]

      • Edmund Allin

        IIRC, what Nixon said and the context in which he said it was slightly more nuanced than this idiot lawyer’s assertion, but because it chimed with what people viewed as being Nixon’s general opinion on whether the law applied to him, there was a general gasp.

        • David Walker

          “A general gasp.” Nicely put. May I add that I miss TV journalist and journalism in general?

  • Javier Smith

    When your lawyer is claiming that you can’t be guilty of obstructing Justice, it means you obstructed Justice.

    • Reality.Bites

      Indeed, claiming that laws don’t apply to you is rarely successful as a defence.

      • Lori

        The defense will succeed if the GOP continues to control Congress and to value GOP rule over the rule of law.

        • Reality.Bites

          The only way out is through the criminal justice system. Congress will not remove him – at least not openly.

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    • KevInPDX

      When a person (the Drumph) says “there is no collusion” 3x in a row you can be assured there is collusion.

  • OdieDenCO

    the excuse “it’s not illegal if the pResident does it” work out so well for the last guy who used it, donny should run with it.

  • Rex


  • SoCalGal20

    Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is going to be very surprised to learn that he’s not the nation’s lead law enforcement officer.

  • GayOldLady
  • Leo

    OT. Gay wedding cake case this week…ugh. All comes down to Kennedy.

    • Charlie 2001

      Most Supreme Court cases are decided unanimously. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one was as well. I doubt the Supreme Court wants to make a radical decision that guts all state anti-discrimination laws. I mean would you be able to ignore laws barring discrimination against women because your preacher says they belong at home?

      • Reality.Bites

        I find it hard to believe there are any circumstances under which Alito will side with us.

        I do think there’s a chance Roberts might.

    • lymis

      They like to kick the can down the timeline by ruling narrowly without establishing new precedent until they have to.

      In this case, they’re pretty much forced to do one of two things:
      Either declare that gay people are not equal citizens protected under the Constitution like everyone else, especially including racial minorities.
      Or declare that anyone with a religious conviction is allowed to discriminate against anybody they want to in commerce and public accommodation.

      If they say that people can discriminate against gay couples in cake shops, they essentially reverse themselves on declaring that people can’t refuse to serve black people in restaurants. Any claim that people weren’t waving religion around – including claiming Biblical support for racial segregation – is just absurd, as is the idea that there aren’t plenty of people who will happily decide to claim it if they can get away with it.

  • GayOldLady

    Obviously the President’s lawyer is attempting to assert the claim that POTUS is above the law. That sounds suspiciously like a dictatorship or a monarchy. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

    • djcoastermark

      I certainly HOPE that is not gonna happen. Right now though, I am not feeling too confident.

  • Gustav2

    Friday’s Gallup, all time low approval 33%, all time high disapproval 62%:

  • Charlie 2001

    Is this an admission that Trump obstructed justice?

  • leastyebejudged

    I’m just not seeing how his tweets, with their WELL established history of being exaggerations and bellicose, are suddenly going to be used to hang him.

    Seems to me to be a gullible and stupid thing to believe.

    I love how the media, like any good parasite, feeds off of and thrives off of endless, perpetual bullshit. It’s almost as if they need each other. Oh, wait !

    • Michael White

      Don’t forget his spokesman Spicer said the tweets are policy.

    • drbrentzenobia

      It’s not sudden. For months now they’ve been used in court against him (e.g. the Muslim travel ban.)

      • leastyebejudged

        The travel ban the Supreme Court just ruled in his favor on ?

        • drbrentzenobia

          They did not issue a final ruling in the case. They ruled that Trump could enforce his policy while the court challenges work their way thru the system.

          And yes, his tweets are being used in the courts as evidence of intent. When the tweets don’t align with the government’s stated policy rationale they undermine the Administration’s legal case.

  • SoCalGal20

    I’m sure all the Watergate lawyers are having a great time with this ridiculous assertion. Also, John Dowd, you did not write that tweet. If you had, you wouldn’t have waited hours before saying you did.

  • Pete Wascher

    what ever happened to “no one is above the law”?

    • Tomcat

      That was before we became third world nation.

  • BearEyes

    How Nixonian.

  • tbj5

    The lying lawyer who tried hilariously to claim that he wrote the tweet where Trumpy admitted to obstruction of Justice is now lying and saying that it’s not a crime for the President to obstruct justice.

    So it’s clear he knows that his cover up for Trumpy won’t work, and that he’s absurdly guilty of obstruction. So start telling the ignorant brainwashed masses that it isn’t a real crime now.

  • Jeffg166

    Nixon tried that one as well. We al know how that turned out.

  • Jay Silversmith

    John Dowd: “Donnie…you need to run for president, because the president can’t
    be convicted of anything. It’s the only way to keep all your crimes
    from public view.”
    Don the Con: “Great idea, John,,,and your check’s in the mail.”

  • Tomcat

    It does not matter who wrote the email. The email owner is responsible for content from friends and LAWYERS.

  • DaddyRay

    I have a quick resolution – Impeach Trump so he is no longer President and above the law

    • drbrentzenobia

      Impeach? You mean after McConnell’s about-face on whether a child molester should be elected Senator?

  • clay

    Cannot / Must not– two very different things.

  • Michael

    This is how it starts, saying the president is above the law.

  • Patrick

    No one is above the Law

  • Geekydee

    If that were true, that would make it a RICO case…

  • Harveyrabbit
  • Harveyrabbit
    • Alex Polkovsky

      If this goes on, more and more people will settle for a revolution and a quick trip down a long shaft.

  • Stogiebear

    So Hitler couldn’t have been guilty of crimes against humanity because he was the Chancellor of Germany. Nazis, the lot of them.

  • Gerry Fisher

    Tell that to Nixon’s ghost.

  • Acronym Jim

    Article II says nothing about a President being the “chief law enforcement officer,” but it does have this to say about the ones who break the law:

    “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

  • TexasBoy

    This is along the lines of Kellyanne’s logic that by default, everything Trump does is “Presidential” ’cause he’s the Prez.

  • Lindoro Almaviva

    That is so cute, when they think they are above the law and then the law comes in and crushes them. OK, sweetheart, whatever you say.

  • Mike Rasor
  • safari

    “A President is outside the law”

  • Dazzer

    “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”, Lord Denning, Master of the Rolls, 1977.

    Lord Denning is widely regarded as the greatest judge of English and Welsh law in the 20th century. He made the above quote (actually paraphrasing, Thomas Fuller, 300 years before) in 1977 before he chastised a Government minister.

    it’s a dictum that has been repeated in courts across the Anglophone world ever since he made it.

    If Trump comes to court, I suspect we’ll hear it again.

  • drbrentzenobia

    By that same reasoning, the President could not break any federal law. That’s the precedent they are arguing. The Supreme Court can’t buy it, because the President could literally shoot a SCOTUS justice (or anyone else) dead anywhere in DC and commit no crime because no state law would apply, and he would be immune to federal prosecution too.

  • Alex Polkovsky

    In simpleton Bizzaro world, if the alfa gorilla does it, it’s okay.

  • -M-

    Uh, no. The opposite.
    The president is obligated to enforce the laws, so he cannot be allowed to obstruct that enforcement.

  • safari

    I’m told that when a loved one gets Alzheimer’s you can estimate how much time they have left by how far into the self-help books one reads to cope they are. The closer to the end of the book, the nearer the end of life.

    If this were a book on Watergate, where would we be now?

    • Treant

      Into the sequel.

  • Natty Enquirer
  • caphillprof

    If the president drew a pistol and shot an innocent person in cold blood, would he be above the law?


    • BartmanLA

      He claimed during the campaign he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and nothing would be done about it, that’s his mentality, he literally thinks he’s above the law and he’s trying to prove it.

    • JohnJay

      Apparently, the president can’t be hauled off to jail, no matter what he’s done. If he did something horrible, like like shoot someone, the Congress must remove him from office; then he can be prosecuted. The House writes up Articles of Impeachment describing the crime. If it passes by a majority… the Senate then has a Trial on those charges. If 60 or more senators find him guilty, he is removed from office. Note, this process does not sentence a punishment… only a removal from office. Once he is not in office, he can be charged, and put on trial like anyone else.

      • Kruhn

        It’s 67 votes

  • Robert Adams

    Gotta love a “lawyer” who has no understanding of the Executive vs the Judicial branches of government. Another Trump University grad?

    • AdamTh

      Probably that Patty Robertson law school. (Seriously, Pat Robertson has a law school)

  • Boy Elvis

    Yet more proof, as if any was needed, of what a bottom feeder profession law all too often is.

  • kareemachan

    Grasping at straws?

  • David Walker

    Dowd: “The tweet did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”
    No, that’s an example of trying to be clever and failing miserably.

  • ColdCountry

    Isn’t that sorta like saying a fire chief can’t be guilty of setting fires? ‘Cause we know about that one….

  • No More GOP.


  • ted-

    Oh just lock up the dotard in chief already.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    “It’s not illegal when the president does it.” Nixon An immoral tangerine

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,”

    Um…no, that’s not how it works dear. I’m a Canadian and even I know that this statement is patently false and further, goes against the entire notion of “the appearance of bias or impropriety” credo of jurist prudence. Where did Mr. Dowd get his law degree, a boy of cracker jacks? As NoMoreGOP put it, sophistry…and bad sophistry at that.

  • MikeBx2

    That excuse didn’t go over very well for Nixon. Also, Nixon’s personal lawyer served prison time.

  • JWC
  • BobSF_94117

    I suspect that the claim that he drafted Trump’s tweet is itself a lie and an attempt to obstruct justice as well, in and of itself.

  • andrew

    Dowd sounds like he believes that the “king” is above the law.

  • JCF


    Oh wait, Drumpf: entirely believable. (But utterly bullshit. At least at THIS moment—sigh—I don’t think SCOTUS will go along w/ it)

  • Gianni

    That seems to be along the line of what President Nixon said: “If the President does it, then it’s not illegal.” I’m not aware that there is anything in our Constitution that says the President is beyond the reach of the law.

  • Ore Carmi

    “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

  • Rick Hammond

    Funny, Nixon said the same thing and look what happened to him!