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'He ignores the law when he doesn’t like it'

Marc Fisher
The Washington Post
September 23, 2019

Eric Lewis was quoted in The Washington Post on the allegations in the whistleblower complaint recently filed against President Trump.

The Mueller report got hung up on what exactly constitutes a thing of value, concluding in its discussion of a Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer that, as Grewal summarized it, “it was debatable whether the dirt on [Democratic opponent] Hillary Clinton was a thing of value.”

But in that instance, “Trump wasn’t yet the president,” said Washington lawyer Eric L. Lewis, a partner at Lewis Baach who specializes in international fraud and corruption cases. “He just said, ‘Russia, if you’re listening, dig up some dirt on the Clinton emails.’ In this case, the question is: Is investigating your opponent and thereby increasing your chances to win the election a thing of value? People have gone to jail for less.”

Lewis said any promise Trump may have made to the Ukrainian president could be investigated as a “breach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He’s a U.S. person offering something to a foreign person for personal advantage, and that’s what the law prohibits.”

But whatever laws may be involved in any inquiry into Trump’s actions, the fact that prosecutors would not file charges against a sitting president makes this more a political question than a legal one.

“The framers were unwise to give the president such a huge amount of power in foreign affairs,” Lewis said, “but they were wise to have a remedy in the legislative branch” — Congress’s ability to impeach and remove a president who criminally abuses power.

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