“We’re on television and this might be getting too technical,” said CNN’s Fareed Zakaria while interrupting a law professor’s explanation of relevant statutes pertaining to obstruction of justice.
On Sunday’s GPS, Zakaria invited two law professors — Elizabeth Foley of Florida International University and Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School — to discuss possibilities of pursuing President Donald Trump with charges of obstruction of justice.
Foley was interrupted by Zakaria as she rejected Tribe’s assertion of federal statutes pertaining to obstruction of investigations and proceeding (18 U.S. Code § 1503 and 18 U.S. Code § 1510) being applicable to Trump’s conduct. 18 U.S. Code § 1503's reference to an "examination or proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate," she noted, does not include FBI investigations.
Foley noted that the specific language of the law is necessary to examine in order to understand its applicability — or lack thereof — in varying situations:
"If you care about process and the rule of law — and this is not just about the ends justifying the means and taking down a president that you don't like — then you need to care about what the statutes of obstruction say in this country, and I'm telling you that section 1503 has been interpreted by every court to be limited to a pending judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding; an FBI investigation is not that. So there is simply no violation of any existing statute under the facts as we know it right now. ... To try to trump up an obstruction of justice statute is not respectful of the rule of law in this country."
Tribe claimed to have read the relevant statutes, alleging that 18 U.S. Code § 1503 is not limited as Foley articulated. "There are bigger questions here," he said in deflection, "The broad question of abuse of power to which [Foley] doesn't speak." He also suggested that Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
Via straw man argumentation, Tribe rejected Alan Dershowitz's explanation of presidential powers articulated by the Constitution, alleging that Dershowitz had claimed that a president can never commit crimes related to obstruction of justice.
In a February article in The New York Times, Tribe joined Nicholas Kristof in speculating upon "How Can We Get Rid Of Trump?", using his legal expertise to recommend lawfare to remove Trump from office via the 25th Amendment; describing Trump as "unable" to execute his duties as president.
Zakaria presents himself as a politically objective and non-partisan news media figure. CNN likewise presents itself as a politically objective and non-partisan news media outlet, billing itself as "The Most Trusted Name In News."
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