Slate: Whitaker should learn from Nixon’s lawyers: If you obstruct for a corrupt president, you go to jail

My latest in Slate, as we are still waiting for any Flynn documents tonight:

As one of the co-authors of an amicus brief challenging President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, I believe that Whitaker’s appointment as a “department head,” bypassing the Department of Justice’s Senate-confirmed officers, violates the appointments clause of the Constitution. That has not stopped Whitaker from taking the job. With this power, Whitaker could obstruct the Russia investigation in many ways. The glaring legal problem for Whitaker—in addition to the illegitimacy of the appointment itself—is that any step he takes to slow or impede special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation potentially could lead to an obstruction or bribery conspiracy charge against him, even if an attorney general would ordinarily have the power to make such moves. In case he is ever tempted to obstruct the Russia probe on the president’s behalf, Whitaker would be wise to study the history of Nixon’s two attorneys general and six other lawyers indicted for participating in Nixon’s legal scandals and what became of them.

Read link for more here. (I’ll be on Lawrence on MSNBC to discuss tonight, 10 pm)

Author: Jed Shugerman

Legal historian at Fordham Law School, teaching Torts, Administrative Law, and Constitutional History. JD/PhD in History, Yale. Red Sox and Celtics fan, youth soccer coach. Author of "The People's Courts: Pursuing Judicial Independence in America" (2012) on the rise of judicial elections in America. I filed an amicus brief in the Emoluments litigation against Trump along with a great team of historians. I'm working on "The Rise of the Prosecutor Politicians," a history of prosecutors and American politics, and another project on the origins of independent agencies in America.

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