Can Trump Obstruct Justice?

The constitutional standard for an impeachable offense—“treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”—is best understood to require serious official misconduct, but not the commission of a crime. But since Alan Dershowitz’s view implies that any presidential termination of an investigation is constitutionally authorized, impeachment for such an action could not be legally permissible. The dispute over this view is no abstract, academic debate. As a matter of practical politics, a long-running controversy among legal experts on this point could give political cover to Republican members of Congress to resist taking up an obstruction charge.

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