Trump Didn’t Know He Was Under Investigation.
All of this activity was supposedly precipitated by Trump’s firing of Comey and subsequent fears that he was engaging in some sort of obstruction into the FBI’s investigation. But again, there was a problem. Trump was never told he might be the subject of a criminal investigation, a fact that even Baker admitted to during his testimony:
Mr. Ratcliffe: So do you know if at any point in time, did Jim Comey as FBI Director ever tell President Trump that President Trump was under criminal investigation?
Mr. Baker: I think—my understanding and belief is that he never told—that he told the President the opposite.
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) would later ask, “How could President Trump obstruct a criminal investigation into his actions if he doesn’t know there’s a criminal investigation into his actions?”
In other words, if Trump was never told he was under investigation, his firing of Comey could not have been for the purpose of obstructing an investigation of himself.
Baker responded to Ratcliffe’s observation by claiming, “But he could have tried to obstruct the investigation with respect to others.”
However, this line of logic quickly led to another conclusion that was captured in a sequence between Ratcliffe and Baker:
Mr. Ratcliffe: Okay. So your notion is that President Trump may have obstructed justice possibly because of the actions of others. Are there any limitations on a President’s pardon authority?
Mr. Baker: Well, the contours of the President’s pardon authority, I think, are not completely clear. So the question, for example, can the President pardon himself?
Mr. Ratcliffe: But we’re talking about others. I’m trying to figure out why President Trump would obstruct justice into an investigation of Michael Flynn or Paul Manafort or anyone else if he had the ability to pardon those folks, which I believe is an absolute authority under the Constitution.