Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Sessions Has Argued Even Presidents Should Pay for Obstructing Justice

Donald Trump's personal lawyer argued today that the president cannot be found guilty of obstructing justice. Sessions weighed in on that back in 1999.

Donald Trump’s lawyer John Dowd isn’t concerned about accusations that the U.S. president might have tried to interfere with FBI’s Russia probe. Dowd told Axios that 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.”

But Trump’s own attorney general Jeff Sessions would beg to differ. Even presidents can commit obstruction of justice, and they should pay for it when they do, Sessions clearly argued in 1999. Then a senator, Sessions was commenting on the impeachment case for Bill Clinton, who had been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

Sessions argued:

It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that President William Jefferson Clinton perjured himself before a federal grand jury and has persisted in a continuous pattern of lying and obstructing justice. The chief law enforcement officer of the land, whose oath of office calls on him to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, crossed the line and failed to defend and protect the law, and, in fact, attacked the law and the rights of a fellow citizen.

If the president were found guilty of having “obstructed justice in an effort to delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence of evidence related to the [Paula] Jones case,” he’d have to end his term, Sessions said.

The same logic could apply to Trump, if it were found that he had hidden knowledge that national security advisor Michael Flynn lied to the FBI, or if he fired FBI director James Comey in order to thwart his investigation.