Trump Thinks He's Above the Law — and His Lawyer Agrees

On Saturday, Donald Trump tweeted what was an extraordinary tweet among a weekend of remarkable tweeting:

screen cap of Trump tweet reading: 'I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!'

It was an incredible admission: Trump had never before said that he knew Michael Flynn lied at the time of his firing. As Daniel Dale noted on Twitter: "So...this tweet is the president saying he knew Flynn had committed a federal crime, and therefore faced big legal exposure, at the time the president tried to get the FBI director to drop the Flynn investigation."

Right away, I thought it was a suspect admission: "There's a pretty good chance Trump tweeted about Flynn lying to the FBI because he wanted to look like he's known that all along and didn't just find out with all the rest of us schlubs. And if that's the case: Whooooooooops. Wouldn't be the first time Trump's pathological insecurity and need to appear smarter than everyone else got him into trouble. Won't be the last. Or, you know, he knew and just admitted it because he has rank hostility for the rule of law and fears no consequences."

Hold that thought.

Yesterday, Trump's attorney, John Dowd, claimed that he had authored the tweet. "Dowd told ABC News that he wrote the tweet and that it was 'sloppy.' Trump's claim about knowing Flynn had lied to the FBI in particular set off alarm bells, as it could be used as evidence in an obstruction of justice case against Trump."

Indeed. And Dowd's claim to have authored the tweet was a clear attempt to do an end-run around potential obstruction charges. But it simultaneously raises serious questions about what it means for presidential records keeping requirements if Trump can say at any time: "Oh, someone else wrote/tweeted that."

Or it would raise serious questions, if we weren't living through a looking glass where nothing even matters.

Now, Dowd is going one step further than taking credit for the tweet, by arguing that the contention the tweet admitted obstruction "is an ignorant and arrogant assertion" and, further, that a president can't be guilty of obstruction of justice, anyway.
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."

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is clearly setting the stage to say the president cannot be charged with any of the core crimes discussed in the Russia probe: collusion and obstruction.
Let us be blunt: This is a legal strategy which essentially argues that Donald Trump cannot be held accountable by the laws of a democracy because he is an authoritarian dictator.


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