Tuesday’s bombshell report that President Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop the federal investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn will almost certainly strengthen a growing consensus among legal scholars that the president may have committed obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense.
The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that Comey kept memos of conversations he had with Trump, including one of a conversation in which the president allegedly urged the then-director of the FBI to drop the ongoing federal probe into Flynn. Multiple media outlets have reported the investigation is examining Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak as well as the retired general’s foreign sources of income prior to joining the Trump administration.
“[Flynn] is a good guy,” Trump reportedly told Comey in February in the Oval Office after a routine national-security briefing. “I hope you can let this go.” (The White House, for its part, told the Times that description was “not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”)
Comey’s memos could bolster calls for an obstruction-of-justice investigation into Trump himself, either by the Justice Department or by Congress. “It helps meet the burden that has to be shown that the president engaged in some kind of misconduct,” said Michael Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor who testified during the Clinton impeachment hearings. “At this point, the burden is shifting over to the president to explain how this might've been done in good faith or how this is not misconduct.”