Former New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on Sunday said that there is solid evidence to justify an investigation into whether President Trump obstructed justice.
Bharara made the remarks during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, suggesting that the evidence provided by former FBI Director James Comey showed that Trump could well have illegally attempted to influence the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.
“There is absolutely evidence to begin a case,” Bharara declared. “No one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction.”
He went onto address an argument that has been advanced by some legal scholars claiming that since the President has the legal authority to fire an FBI director, he cannot be guilty of obstruction for doing so. Bharara pointedly dismissed the argument as “silly.”
“This point on whether or not the President has legal authority fire or to direct an investigation, I don’t really ge it — it’s a little silly to me — that the fact that you have the authority to remove someone from office doesn’t necessarily immunize that act from criminal liability,” he said.
Bharara also debunked the excuse put forward by some Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, claiming that Trump is new and does not know what he is doing. The former U.S. Attorney said that Ryan’s claims make “very very little sense,” adding “the President became the President, in part, by campaigning at rally after rally after rally — that I saw and Americans saw — on the issue of whether or not it was appropriate for the former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to have a meeting on the tarmac with Bill Clinton. So he very well knew what the optics of that were and what the protocols were.”
“And even though there’s no evidence and no one has come forward to say anything untoward was discussed on that airplane on the tarmac when an ongoing investigation was underway with respect to Hillary Clinton, he nevertheless said ‘this the reason you should vote for me and not for that person.’ and for people to turn around and say now that there is evidence — that the President of the United States, himself, had a private conversation after kicking other high officials out of the room and told his FBI Director confidentially to do something about a case that’s pending, I think that’s a big deal and it can’t be excused as being novice or new,” he continued.
Regardless of the spin which is being placed on Trump’s conduct by his team and some Republicans, Comey’s testimony and the mounting evidence pointing to the President taking overt actions in order to influence the investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the sprawling Russia investigation have placed Trump in very perilous territory.
It remains to be seen what other evidence emerges and what Special Counsel Robert Mueller ultimately does with it. However, one thing is clear: the defenses which have so far been put forward for Trump’s conduct will not do much to save him.
Watch the interview with Bharara below: