The Washington Post reports that President Donald Trump is under investigation for potentially obstructing justice when he fired the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, in May.
The newspaper describes this as a “major turning point” in the legal offensive against the American president, who also faces questions about his team’s ties to Russia.
It was because of the FBI’s Russia investigation that Trump dismissed Comey. He admitted as much in an interview with NBC News and later bragged about it in an Oval Office conversation with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the United States.
Investigators are also looking for evidence of financial crimes among Trump associates, officials told The Post. Which would mean there are now three lines of inquiry.
Only a few days ago, Paul Ryan, the Republican leader in Congress, tried to belittle Trump’s incessant attempts to block the Russia investigation by claiming the president was “new” to Washington politics.
Which may be true, but Trump is clearly not naive.
Not only did he ask Comey to confess his personal “loyalty” to him and stop an investigation into the foreign ties of his security advisor, Michael Flynn (requests Comey denied); Trump then asked the director of national intelligence as well as the head of the National Security Agency to put pressure on the FBI to stop snooping around.
The two spy masters also refused Trump.
Throughout, Trump has maintained his innocence, tweeting most recently that the allegations against him are “phony” and there is “zero proof”.
There are currently five investigations into Trump and the possibility that his campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.
A criminal investigation is led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller, who preceded Comey as head of the FBI.
Four congressional committees — two in the House, two in the Senate — are conducting hearings of their own.
The special counsel could ultimately bring criminal charges. But only Congress could remove the president through impeachment in the House and a trial in the Senate.
Impeachment is not strictly a legal process. A simple majority is required to impeach. Since Republicans, led by Ryan, have the majority in Congress, the question is how much longer they are willing to protect the president.