"Did the president just say he plans on obstructing justice?"
That was how Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) responded on Thursday to President Donald Trump's threat during a "bonkers" and "careening" interview on "Fox & Friends" that "at some point [he] won't" stay away from the Justice Department's Russia probe, which is being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
"You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI—it's a disgrace," Trump said. "And our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point, I won't...There is no collusion with me and Russia, and everybody knows it."
Legal experts and commentators immediately reacted with alarm to Trump's rant, which was widely interpreted as a blatant threat to obstruct an ongoing investigation.
Not every day that the president threatens to obstruct justice live on national television. https://t.co/nEBHFa2sEx
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) April 26, 2018
This morning Trump went on Fox&Friends to make vague threats against the Department of Justice. Not only is this obstruction of justice, but it should be deeply worrying to anyone who supports the rule of law. Many will stay silent though, because they support Trump's goal. pic.twitter.com/C1z2Nj6dyp
— John Iadarola (@johniadarola) April 26, 2018
It's amazing. First there's the snicker when Trump says the FBI loves him and then the obvious discomfort which evolves into cutting off the President of the United States & ending his interview when they realize he's threatening obstruction of justice. https://t.co/rp7iCE2J8G
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) April 26, 2018
Dear Trump supporters with "Constitution" in your Twitter bio: Delete it. https://t.co/1lhOtr6xIV
— Christian Christensen (@ChrChristensen) April 26, 2018
CREW argued in a report published last year that Trump has already "likely obstructed justice" by attempting to interfere with the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn—his former national security adviser—and by demanding loyalty from former FBI director James Comey.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has informed Trump's legal team that he is "preparing a report about the president's actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice."