Trump firing Comey amounts to 'high crimes', says Harvard constitutional law professor

President has given a lot of different justifications for firing the former FBI Director

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The Independent US

Donald Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey was clearly an attempt to obstruct justice – a federal crime and, potentially, grounds for impeachment if true – a highly-respected constitutional law professor at Harvard has said. 

“That is, clearly, on it's face obstruction of justice,” Laurence Tribe said of reports that Mr Trump had asked Mr Comey during a private dinner to pledge his loyalty to the President.

Any such request – which was denied by Mr Comey, who said that he could only pledge honesty – could can be interpreted to mean that Mr Trump was asking the then-FBI director to promise that investigations into Russia’s election interference would not target the Oval Office.

The White House has denied Mr Trump made such a request.

“What it really means is, 'Can I count on you not to make me a target of this investigation,’” Mr Tribe said. “That’s clearly an impermissible question.”

Mr Trump, in an interview, raised new questions about the motivations behind his decision to fire Mr Comey.

He contradicted previous reports from news outlets and his White House staff that he was moved by a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to let go of Mr Comey, saying that he would have fired him with or without justification from his Justice Department.

Mr Trump went further as well, saying at one point that his decision to sack Mr Comey was in part motivated by his belief that an investigation into Russia’s meddling and connections between the Trump campaign and Moscow - which Mr Comey was overseeing - was fake news perpetuated by Democrats to make excuses for their 2016 loss.

“So, either Trump's own account of the discussion is true, in which case he's guilty of obstruction of justice,” Mr Tribe said.

“Or, much more likely, Comey’s account is true in which Comey gave him no assurances and said, ‘You can count on me to be honest, but not to be reliable or swear fealty to you.’

“Either way, as with the first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon, this is a series of high crimes and misdemeanors,” Mr Tribe said.