President Trump's personal lawyer took to the airwaves this week to argue that the president cannot obstruct justice. Why? Because he is the top law enforcement official in the country.
But as Politico reports, Attorney General Jeff Sessions took the opposite position when former President Bill Clinton's sex scandal rocked the White House:
In 1999, Sessions – then an Alabama senator – laid out an impassioned case for President Bill Clinton to be removed from office based on the argument that Clinton obstructed justice amid the investigation into his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
While Trump's lawyer, John Dowd, argued that the president's position is what protects him from such a charge, Sessions argued the exact opposite in Clinton's case:
“The chief law 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 the law, and, in fact, attacked the law and the rights of a fellow citizen,” Sessions said during Clinton’s trial in the Senate, two months after he was impeached by the House. “Under our Constitution, equal justice requires that he forfeit his office.”
As it stands, more than 40 current Republicans in Congress were in agreement with Sessions, voting in favor or impeachment or removal of Clinton from office.
They include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – who mounted his own passionate appeal to remove Clinton from office for obstruction of justice – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, who was a House member at the time.
McConnell's office declined to comment for this story.
Burr, however, told reporters Monday that he did not agree with Dowd's view that presidents are legally disqualified from obstructing justice. Grassley demurred when asked to weigh in, telling reporters Monday that "that's a theory you'd better let the legal profession work out."