“I'm absolutely certain the Washington swamp will bubble up with obstruction accusations,” Michael Caputo, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign, said. He noted that while he, personally, was not worried that the president would actually commit obstruction by firing Sessions, to Trump’s critics, “his McDonald's order is obstruction.” Another former Trump campaign adviser, who worked closely with Sessions and requested anonymity to speak freely about the ongoing investigation, agreed. “Firing the [attorney general] could trigger unintended consequences such as charges linked to obstruction of justice. I’m not sure it has merit, but it would be thrown at him.”
Some legal experts disagree, arguing that, depending on Trump’s motives, such a dismissal could actually constitute obstruction. “The issue would be whether the president had a corrupt purpose—that is, a desire to cover up his own wrongdoing—when he fired Sessions,” Louis Seidman, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown, said. Seidman acknowledged the debate among legal scholars about whether a sitting president can be charged as such for performing acts that are otherwise within their constitutional powers. But he said he believes Trump could be charged with obstruction because “obstruction of justice, by its nature, is inconsistent with the president’s constitutional authority to take care that the laws are faithfully executed.” Jens David Ohlin, a professor at Cornell Law School who specializes in criminal law, said he believed that firing Sessions “would immediately provoke a political crisis for Trump and would accelerate impeachment talk—because the firing would be a major obstruction of justice, this one even larger than the Comey firing.” And despite its skepticism of the legal merits, it’s clear that the White House is taking the political consequences of the charge seriously. Roger Stone, a long-time informal adviser to Trump, said the president’s advisors “have convinced him he will be impeached if he does” fire Sessions.
Still, it is not clear that further allegations of obstruction—and, consequently, talk of impeachment—are what has stopped Trump from ousting Sessions, especially since he has allies who agree that Sessions never should have accepted the job to begin with if he was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. “I think Jeff Sessions engaged in wrongful conduct by not telling the president before he was appointed, ‘I’m going to recuse myself,’” Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who dined with Trump this week, told Trump ally and Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday night. “The president would never have appointed him. The president doesn't want a part-time attorney general.” Joe diGenova, a lawyer who was briefly considered for a spot on Trump’s legal team, agreed with Dershowitz. And Caputo told me that, although Sessions “earned the president’s respect through a bruising election campaign … at some point even the most loyal person has to say: What the heck? The attorney general's decision to recuse himself released inside-the-Beltway hounds committed to destroy the president, his family and his closest friends—because they believe an outsider must never be elected president again.”