Can the president obstruct justice?

 

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday morning, as the grave and unpleasant topic of impeachment entered the American political conversation, the leading conservative legal group convened its annual daylong meeting just blocks from the White House.

The Federalist Society handed out media packets to reporters that included a 2014 news article about how the group was at that time discussing the possible impeachment of President Barack Obama for “constitutional excesses.”

But when it came to the current White House occupant and the debate over possible obstruction of justice related to the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, one of the Federalist Society’s founding members was unequivocal in his support of President Donald Trump.

“President Trump acted appropriately if he gave guidance to Director Comey on an investigation. It is important for us to step back and remember that under the Constitution, the president has the authority and power to enforce the laws,” said David McIntosh, who is also the head of the Club for Growth, a pro-business conservative advocacy group.

McIntosh defended Trump’s reported request of former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into Russian contacts with Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“Presidents have wisely chosen to insulate the FBI from political interference,” McIntosh said, but “the president still has the power and authority to direct the FBI how to do their job.”

A little later, another panelist at the Federalist Society meeting — former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey — at first echoed McIntosh’s line of argument.

“The president has power to direct that an investigation cease,” Mukasey said.

But Mukasey, who served under Republican President George W. Bush, then went on to make a series of comments that were severely disapproving of Trump’s reported conduct.

First, Mukasey said he was not sure Trump understood the implications of what…

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