Greg Gibson / AP

A quick history lesson from John Yoo, a leading thinker on executive power who was a George W. Bush deputy assistant attorney general in the aftermath of 9/11, and is now a Berkeley law professor. In a N.Y. Times Op-Ed, "Forget Watergate. Think Iran-Contra," Yoo writes:

Trump's comments [in the Comey notes] come close to obstruction of justice but don't clearly cross the line. ... While he set out his favorable opinion of Mr. Flynn, he stopped short of ordering Mr. Comey to drop the investigation. Mr. Trump's words carried an implicit recognition that Mr. Comey would make the final call.
Unlike in the Watergate case, there is no evidence that the president ordered witnesses to lie, destroyed evidence or tried to block F.B.I. agents from doing their job. At least, no evidence yet. ... [P]ursuing the president for obstruction of justice is likely to fail ...
Trump should look to the example of ... Ronald Reagan. The Iran-contra scandal nearly destroyed Reagan's presidency and could have led to his impeachment. After the revelations [in 1986] that his national security staff had traded arms for hostages held by Iran and transferred funds to the Nicaraguan contras, Reagan cleaned house and agreed to reforms of government oversight of covert action. After that, his presidency not only survived but also thrived.

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