President Donald Trump likely impeded the investigations into Russian interference and broke the law when he fired former FBI Director James Comey, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
The think tank suggests the president's actions could be grounds for impeachment, according to Salon.
"Attempts to stop an investigation represent a common form of obstruction," the Oct. 10 report reads. "Demanding the loyalty of an individual involved in an investigation, requesting that individual's help to end the investigation, and then ultimately firing that person to accomplish that goal are the type of acts that have frequently resulted in obstruction convictions."
Trump has previously admitted he fired Comey over the investigation into whether the president's campaign colluded with Russia. In May, Trump said he wanted to fire the former FBI director because "this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."
Additionally, the president pressured Comey into dropping his investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser who resigned over allegations he accepted money from foreign governments.
For scholars at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, Trump's reasoning to fire Comey is obstruction of justice -- an impeachable offense.
"The fact that the president has lawful authority to take a particular course of action does not immunize him if he takes that action with the unlawful intent of obstructing a proceeding for an improper purpose," said the report, according to CNBC. "There is already evidence that his acts may have been done with an improper intent to prevent the investigation from uncovering damaging information about Trump, his campaign, his family, or his top aides."
Although the report does not directly recommend impeachment, it does offer it as an option should special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the Russia investigation, decide Trump indeed obstructed justice.
Brookings analysts Barry Berke, Noah Bookbinder and Norman Eisen write that if Mueller finds there was obstruction, he should refer the issue to Congress or pursue indictment against the president.
There is precedent for impeaching a president over obstruction, according to the think tank. The authors invoke former President Richard Nixon, who resigned before he could be impeached, and former President Bill Clinton, who was impeached but not convicted, to show that there is valid reason to impeach Trump depending on the results of Mueller's investigation.
"Attempts to stop an investigation represent a common form of obstruction," the report reads. "Demanding the loyalty of an individual involved in an investigation, requesting that individual's help to end the investigation, and then ultimately firing that person to accomplish that goal are the type of acts that have frequently resulted in obstruction convictions."