Sen. Angus King said if allegations that President Donald Trump tried to shut down an FBI investigation into one of his former advisers prove true, the president will be bordering on “the legal definition of obstruction of justice” and could open himself up to impeachment proceedings.
Responding to reports that Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to halt his probe into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russian operatives, King (I-ME) told CNN he was troubled by the potential implications of Trump’s alleged actions.
“If that’s true and confirmed I think you’re getting very close to the legal definition of obstruction of justice,” King said.
Pressed on whether the allegations could warrant President Trump facing impeachment proceedings before Congress, King affirmed he believed that they could.
“Reluctantly, Wolf, I have to say yes simply because obstruction of justice is such a serious offense, and I say it with sadness and reluctance.”
The Maine senator, however, emphasized that lawmakers had to rise above partisan politics for any such decision to be made.
“We don’t want to get into the situation where we’re charging our president based on any kind of political considerations,” he said.
King added that “the Constitution was very clear” in its rubric for a president for a president to be brought under impeachment charges. “It has to be high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said.
King, an independent, caucuses with Democrats. He is up for reelection in 2018.
While sharply critical of Trump, Democrats have so far shied away from talking about impeachment. Last week, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that the firing of FBI Director James Comey “may well produce” impeachment hearings.
Other Democrats seemed unwilling to entertain an impeachment scenario just yet.
“I’m not getting into impeachment hypothesis,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday.
Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.