Donald Trump Isn't King: Watergate Prosecutor, Dems Say President Can Obstruct Justice

Donald Trump's legal team said he cannot obstruct justice. Getty Images

President Donald Trump is facing growing criticism after a letter his legal team sent to Special Counsel Robert Mueller said the president cannot obstruct justice and that he shouldn't be forced to testify.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Trump legal team's stance in their letter to Mueller is something you would see in a dictatorship.

"This would be a valid legal argument — if our government were a dictatorship," Schumer said Saturday. "Fortunately, we are a government of laws, not men. And in America, no one is above the law, including the president."

Trump's lawyers said, in the letter published by The New York Times, that he also has the power to pardon himself.

"It remains our position that the President's actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired," Jay Sekulow and John Dowd wrote, according to The Times .

Before The Times published its story, Trump was already tweeting about it.

"There was No Collusion with Russia (except by the Democrats). When will this very expensive Witch Hunt Hoax ever end? So bad for our Country," Trump said. "Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media? Should be looking at Dems corruption instead?"

An assistant prosecutor during the Watergate scandal also had strong words for Trump, comparing him to a king in an interview with MSNBC.

"First of all, the whole idea that he can't be charged with obstruction of justice—the last time that ever happened in this country is when we were ruled by King George," Nick Akerman said. "That's what the whole rule of law is about. The president has to faithfully execute the laws. If it he winds up having the corrupt intent to put the kibosh to an investigation, that's obstruction of justice."

In an interview with CNN Sunday, former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said Trump would be wise to cooperate and let the investigation play out. If the president were to pardon himself, Trump would be impeached, he said. "I think if the president decided he was going to pardon himself, I think it is almost self-executing impeachment," Bharara said. "Whether or not there is an argument that is not what the framers could have intended."

03 Preet Bharara
Preet Bharara. U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York. In office: January 20, 2017, to March 11, 2017 (383 days). Fired. Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters