Harvard professor and constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe on Thursday called President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey “staggering” and said Trump obstructed justice by asking for Comey’s loyalty.
“That is, clearly, on it’s face obstruction of justice,” Tribe said on MSNBC on Thursday, referring to reports that Trump asked Comey for his “loyalty” at a private dinner.
Tribe said that Trump’s request translated to mean that Trump wanted assurances from Comey that he would not become part of the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference.
“What it really means is, ‘Can I count on you not to make me a target of this investigation”’ ” Tribe said. “That’s clearly an impermissible question.”
On Thursday, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he considered the Russia investigation when he made the decision to fire Comey, contradicting statements made by other members of his White House staff, including Vice President Mike Pence.
Tribe said that Trump’s own words insinuated that he was guilty of obstructing the FBI’s investigation.
“So, either Trump’s own account of the discussion is true, in which case he’s guilty of obstruction of justice,” Tribe said. “Or, much more likely, Comey’s account is true in which Comey gave him no assurances and said, ‘You can count on me to be honest, but not to be reliable or swear fealty to you.’ ”
“Either way, as with the first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon, this is a series of high crimes and misdemeanors,” Tribe said.