Trump cannot be forced to testify: lawyers

Robert Mueller, the special counsel.AFPALEX WONG  

U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyers composed a secret 20-page letter to special counsel Robert Mueller to assert that he cannot be forced to testify while arguing that he could not have committed obstruction because he has absolute authority over all federal investigations. The existence of the letter was first reported and posted by The New York Times on Saturday.

The letter is dated January 29 and addressed to Mr. Mueller from John Dowd, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers at the time who has since resigned from the legal team. In the letter, the Trump’s lawyers argue that a charge of illegal obstruction is moot because the Constitution empowers the President to, “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon”.

Mr. Trump weighed in on Saturday on Twitter, asking “Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media?” He added: “When will this very expensive Witch Hunt Hoax ever end? So bad for our Country.” Mr. Trump had previously signalled that he would be willing to sit for an interview, but his legal team have expressed concern that the President could risk charges of perjury.

A court battle is likely if Mr. Trump’s team argues that the President can’t be forced to answer questions or be charged with obstruction of justice. President Bill Clinton was charged with obstruction in 1998 by the House of Representatives as part of his impeachment trial. And one of the articles of impeachment prepared against Richard Nixon in 1974 was for obstruction.