Professor Charles Tiefer testified yesterday (June 29) at a House hearing on the importance of congressional investigation into potential collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump and his associates, despite the investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Also testifying were John Dean, White House counsel during Watergate, and David Kendall, counsel to President Bill Clinton during his 1998 impeachment by the House of Representatives over the Monica Lewinsky affair.
In the 1980s, Tiefer served as special deputy chief counsel to the House Iran-Contra committee, which looked into obstruction by top national security officials in the White House.
Read Professor Tiefer’s written statement, in which he argues that the House Judiciary Committee has an important role in investigating the Russia matter and that its brief differs markedly from the special counsel’s.
The hearing, “How to Define Obstruction of Justice in the Constitutional and Criminal Justice Context,” was organized by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), among other congressional Democrats, and by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
In a June 30 Forbes.com column, “House Democratic Hearing Explores Whether Obstruction Case Could Be Made Against Trump,” Tiefer described Kendall and Dean’s thinking about obstruction and detailed a “lively debate” over whether the president could be indicted while still in office or whether he was subject only to impeachment: “Kendall argued the Framers’ original intent was against indicting the President; Dean responded with some eminent legal authorities suggesting the matter is far from closed.”
Tiefer added that he had an interesting exchange with Rep. Raskin about whether collusion with Russia by Trump’s campaign, if proven, would be criminal.
“[B]uilding on an Ellen Weintraub analysis, I said the Russian support for the Trump campaign might fall afoul of the statutory prohibition on foreign contributions,” Tiefer wrote, referring to FEC Commissioner Weintraub. “Rep. Raskin did me one better, asking whether the Russian support, again afoul of the foreign help ban, might constitute, in the context of collusion, an illegally ‘coordinated expenditure.’ I predict this issue will become prominent.”