Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) proclaimed that President Donald Trump can’t obstruct justice because he’s the president.
“The President of the United States is the chief executive officer of the United States. If he wants to fire the FBI director, all he has to do is fire him,” Gingrich said in a speech Friday.
But Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin that the claim is absolute nonsense.
“Let me be clear, investigations determine whether there has been an obstruction of justice,” she said. “I gave the definition of it and it can be quite simple. I disagree with the Speaker. I served when Speaker Gingrich was in, and he can express his views, but the issue as it was in the Nixon Watergate proceedings was not the break-in, it was the coverup. It is not the question of whether the president can or did fire one of his employees. It is the engagement to stop an investigation or to impede it.”
She went on to say that Trump did exactly that when he asked Comey to “lay off” retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
“That’s impeding an ongoing investigation and that’s impeding the administration of justice,” she explained. “So, Mr. Gingrich is incorrect in his analysis because he’s looking at the wrong incident. We’re looking at the incident where Director Comey was directed to stop, to lay off. That meets the standard of an administration of justice involvement or violation and it warrants investigation. Now, let me be clear. what the special counsel does is different from a committee would do.”
Baldwin pointed out that Gingrich didn’t think the president couldn’t be charged with obstruction of justice when President Bill Clinton did it.