President Donald Trump could avoid impeachment if his next attorney general blocks critical evidence uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller.
William Barr, whose nomination passed another procedural hurdle Tuesday, has suggested that governing law could keep Congress from reviewing evidence against the president, wrote attorney David Lurie for The Daily Beast.
Federal prosecutors are prohibited from trying a sitting president for criminal conduct, but the U.S. Congress could impeach and remove Trump if Mueller finds evidence of collusion or other crimes.
That is, if lawmakers are allowed to see that evidence.
Barr has refused to commit to sharing all of Mueller’s final report, if one is issued, with the public or even Congress, saying the evidence could be subject to rules on secrecy and privacy.
However, according to Lurie, the attorney general nominee is wrong, arguing that a court allowed the House to review evidence against Richard Nixon in the Watergate investigation.
That court decision expressly states that Congress has a right to obtain any evidence against a president in a criminal investigation, and the U.S. Constitution then authorizes the House to impeach and the Senate to remove the chief executive for “high crimes or misdemeanors.”
The Watergate saga offers a number of precedents regarding criminal evidence against a president, and Lurie said Congress should prepare to issue a subpoena to demand Mueller’s grand jury evidence, as the House did in 1974 from special prosecutor Leon Jaworski.
That would almost certainly set off another court battle, and Lurie warned that Trump and his attorney general nominee have already signaled they’re willing to fight any attempt to release Mueller’s findings to the public.