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Trump's statements linking Russia investigation to Comey firing could lead to legal problems

President Trump is interviewed this week by Lester Holt of NBC News. (NBC News)
President Trump is interviewed this week by Lester Holt of NBC News. (NBC News)

A growing number of legal experts say President Trump has opened himself up to a charge of obstruction of justice this week when he said “this Russia thing with Trump” was on his mind when he fired FBI Director James Comey.

The federal law against obstruction of justice, a felony, is written broadly and applies to pending investigations. It can cover anyone who “corruptly … endeavors to influence, obstruct or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States.” In another section, the word “corruptly” is defined as “acting with an improper purpose.”

Trump’s repeated references to the Russia investigation in interviews, tweets and the letter he sent Comey informing him that he'd been fired could be interpreted as an effort to “obstruct or impede” the investigation, the legal experts said.

The threat is not a completely theoretical one: President Nixon, who was forced to resign under threat of impeachment, and President Clinton, who was impeached, were both accused of obstruction of justice.

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