Republican strategist Steve Schmidt blasted President Donald Trump and his lawyers for claiming executive powers beyond what the Constitution allows.
The New York Times reported a 20-page letter sent to special counsel Robert Mueller that argues the president cannot obstruct justice, and Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Huffington Post that the president could have shot former FBI director James Comey and escaped indictment.
"Rudy Giuliani, his debasement, his servility towards Donald Trump at a moment where this country needs heroes -- and he was a hero," Schmidt said. "He was an American hero, and to see the debasement of Giuliani in service to this corruption and the debasement of the presidency makes me want to cry, to be honest with you. It's tragic."
Schmidt said the president's legal team made outrageous and ridiculous claims about his constitutional authority.
"The letter that was put forward is the most disturbing that we've ever seen in the history of the presidency, and I'm not being hyperbolic here," Schmidt said. "Trump, who's already established a premise that truth is not objective, that what is true is what I say, what is true is what the leader says is true. So the crowd size materially smaller, obviously, so but because the leader says it's bigger it must be bigger. Straight out of '1984.' "
The president's lawyers claimed dictatorial powers for Trump in their letter to the special counsel investigating campaign ties to Russia.
"But now the claim in the letter is, 'I am the law, I'm a king, I can if I wish, I can use the instruments of the Department of Justice to prosecute and lock up political opponents, anybody who obstructs me,'" Schmidt said. "That's the claim in the letter. It's the most disturbing and the most ridiculous claim ever made by an American president. It is an assault on the American republic, it is an assault on the concepts of the rule of law, on the idea that we're a nation of laws and that no one is above the law."
"The greatness of George Washington is that he was the first person in thousands of years since the Roman emperor Cincinnatus, who said, 'I could be a king, I could be an emperor but I choose not to, I'll be a president, I'll be be a person with limited powers, and then I'll return home to my farm in Virginia when my service is over," Schmidt continued. "The letter that Giuliani defends is an assault on all of those concepts."