Some constitutional law experts are in agreement that President Trump‘s firing of FBI Director James Comey is an “impeachable offense,” arguing that although Trump’s move was technically legal, it constitutes a potential abuse of power.
Speaking to ThinkProgress, national legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union David D. Cole said Trump can legally fire anyone he wants to in the executive branch. “But if he did so, as appears to be the case, because he is concerned that Comey’s investigation of ties between his campaign and Russian officials might have implicated him in wrongdoing, it’s tantamount to an obstruction of justice,” Cole said.
The timing of Comey’s firing has led many to believe it was a calculated move by Trump to stall an investigation into the White House’s ties to Russia.
Cole pointed to Richard Nixon’s firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal and said that Nixon was also within the law when he fired Cox, but it was Nixon’s intent to circumvent an investigation which made it a problem.
“In the end, Nixon paid. Trump may find, too, that it’s not so easy to evade justice” Cole wrote to ThinkProgress.
Other experts interviewed by ThinkProgress echoed similar sentiments.
“The most likely explanation for it is that Comey was close to finding out information about Trump that would be more damaging than the damage inflicted by the firing itself,” wrote Seidman in an email,” Constitutional law expert Louis Michael Seidman said.
“I don’t think that there’s any question that this could be seen as part of a pattern that constituted high crimes and misdemeanors, which would justify impeachment.”
But according to Dean of Irvine School of Law Erwin Chemerinsky, an impeachment of Trump by Congress is unlikely, which underscores the need for a special prosecutor.
“I think the question is did [Trump’s] campaign aides – did the administration – violate the law. That’s where I think there has to be strong public pressure to appoint an independent special prosecutor.”
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