As Trump Wades Deeper Into Twitter Controversy, Is He Also Wading Into 'Peril'? Some Legal Experts Say Yes

| DEC 4, 2017 | 4:08 PM

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Twitter has been both a blessing and a curse for President Donald Trump from the moment he announced his candidacy for president.

Initially, the most criticism surrounding Trump's tweeting focused on his seemingly uncanny ability to post a controversial tweet when he was enjoying an uptick in the polls, favorable press coverage, or a recent accomplishment.

The criticism has now intensified. And grown more serious.

As Trump continues to tweet about the ongoing investigation into contacts with Russia by his 2016 campaign, not only are members of both parties warning him. Legal experts are doing so, as well.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a former judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force, warned on Sunday of the potential peril for the president.

During an appearance on CBS's “Face the Nation,” Graham spoke “directly” to Trump, as Fox News reported:

“I would just say this [to] the president: There’s an ongoing criminal investigation. Your tweet and comment regarding ongoing criminal investigations at your own peril.”

Graham's reference was to a Saturday morning tweet:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein told NBC “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd she believes Trump is building a case for obstruction of justice:

"I think what we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice. I think we see this in the indictments — the four indictments and pleas.


I see it in the hyper-phonetic attitude of the White House, the comments every day, the continual tweets.

And I see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of director Comey, and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice."

Attorney and MSNBC Justice and Security Analyst Matthew Miller agrees with Feinstein:

Attorney Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University said on MSNBC, as reported by the Huffington Post, Trump is going to “regret that Twitter expanded to 280 characters, giving him more room to confess to obstruction of justice in his tweets." He added:

“[Trump] just said that Michael Flynn lying to the FBI was one of the reasons he fired him. Broaden the time horizon: He then asked the then-director of the FBI to drop the investigation — and then he fired the director of the FBI.”

Former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade made similar comments to The Daily Beast:

“This tweet makes it clear that Trump knew at the time that he made his request to Comey to let the investigation go that Flynn had lied to the FBI, which is a criminal offense.”

As the controversy continued to swirl, Trump attorney John Dowd told Reuters he was the one who wrote the tweet, not Trump.

Dowd not only said he got his sequence of facts wrong, he suggested Twitter's character limit was part of the problem, as well:

“The mistake was I should have put the lying to the FBI in a separate line referencing his plea. Instead, I put it together and it made all you guys go crazy. A tweet is a shorthand.”

Whether or not Trump or Dowd posted the tweet, Dowd's explanation of his “mistake” is true, or Trump is exposing himself to possible obstruction of justice charges, one thing is clear:

His continuing tweets and comments about the ongoing investigation are not in his best interest. Besides, what's the upside?

Video of Feinstein's comments is below.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.