Stuff to Read About Obstruction of Justice

Trump Maladministration

Whether a direct link between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin is ever proved decisively may not matter. All the smart legal expert guys think Mueller must be building a slam-dunk obstruction of justice case.

Renato Mariotti, The Hill, “It’s Now Likely Mueller Thinks Trump Obstructed Justice.”

Thursday’s explosive New York Times story that President Donald Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June renewed the public’s focus on the obstruction of justice investigation against Trump, which will soon culminate in Trump’s interview by Mueller. The case against Trump has grown stronger in recent months, and it now appears likely that Mueller will conclude that Trump obstructed justice.

Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, “How Trump Built an Obstruction of Justice Case Against Himself.”

Obstruction of justice is a crime that depends on a person’s state of mind, and so is difficult for prosecutors to prove. The law on whether a sitting president can be prosecuted, as opposed to impeached and removed from office by Congress, is unsettled. But legal experts say that Trump’s pattern of behavior has made the case against him much stronger, because that pattern shows Trump repeatedly attempting to undercut the investigations into Russian interference and obstruction, and then in some cases misleading the public about it. That Trump was unsuccessful in firing Mueller is irrelevant—obstruction is a crime whether or not the attempt succeeds.

Aaron Blake, Washington Post, “Did Trump just admit that he tried to impede the Russia investigation?

When asked whether he’s concerned about Mueller’s fairness in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump explained that there was no collusion and no obstruction of justice. And then he extrapolated on the obstruction part in a highly questionable way.

“Here’s what we’ll say and everybody says: No collusion. There’s no collusion. Now they’re saying, ‘Oh, well, did he fight back?’ ” Trump said.

After some cross-talk, Trump finished his thought to ABC News’s Jon Karl: “You fight back. Jon — you fight back. ‘Oh, it’s obstruction.’ ”

Trump’s meaning seems to be clear: What people see as obstruction of justice is, to him, just fighting back. And that fits with his brand as a fighter and a counterpuncher and all that.

But there’s one major problem with that: The actions at-issue here aren’t supposed to be aimed at fighting back against the investigation. The argument Trump’s lawyers are likely to make is that Trump did things like firing FBI Director James B. Comey for reasons unrelated to the Russia probe.

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, “Trump’s inability to understand ‘obstruction of justice’ may be his downfall.”

The normal problem in these cases is proving whether an accused obstructionist had “corrupt” intent. That is, did he interfere with an investigation to protect himself or further his own interests. Here, Trump is shouting his corrupt intent — though he has no idea it’s corrupt — from the rooftops. He’s not at all embarrassed to admit he tried to strong-arm the FBI and shut down Comey. In fact, he believes he was entitled to do these things.

Chris Strohm and Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg, “Mueller Almost Done With Obstruction Part of Trump Probe, Sources Say.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is moving at a far faster pace than previously known and appears to be wrapping up at least one key part of his investigation — whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Mueller has quietly moved closer to those around Trump by interviewing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey in recent weeks, officials said. His team has also interviewed CIA Director Mike Pompeo, NBC News reported.

Those high-level officials all have some degree of knowledge about events surrounding Trump’s decisions to fire Comey and Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser.

“Clearly the names that are coming out now indicate that we’re into the obstruction of justice side of it,” said Stanley Twardy, a former U.S. attorney for Connecticut who’s now a white-collar criminal defense lawyer at the law firm Day Pitney LLP. “He’s now getting people who are closest to the president, closest to the issues.”

Harry Litman, Los Angeles Times, “Sweet words we may soon hear: ‘Mr. President, you are a target for obstruction of justice charges‘.”

That’s where the path of this investigation directly points: Mueller has spoken to all the crucial witnesses except Trump, and has the full account from the two principals, namely Comey and Flynn.

That “target” statement would demolish Trump’s public stance, and completely alter the stakes for an interview.

Stay tuned.

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  1. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 27, 2018 @9:32 pm

    I won't be able to stomach tRUMP's State of the Union (he's obstructing) on Tuesday night.

    I can't stand to look at, or listen to him, without throwing-up a bit of my last meal in my mouth.

    I will, however, be glued to the TV and and Internet when the FBI folks pick his lying ass up to be charged with obstruction and money-laundering!  

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 27, 2018 @9:45 pm


    Maybe, instead of "obstructing," I should have written 'destroying' in my first paragraph.

    Yes, make that destroying.


  3. Doug  •  Jan 28, 2018 @12:06 pm

    If Mueller comes back with an OOJ charge, Congress will declare it is partisan and refuse to act. There will be no Articles of Impeachment until 2019. If the Democrats have the majority in the House and the evidence is there, then we will have a trial in the Senate. A two-thirds verdict is required – Trump will be acquitted.  The problem is – Trump will be mortally wounded with Independent voters who saw the evidence. The GOP will back Trump in 2019 and he will lose by McGovern proportions. 

    The GOP establishment is fighting for survival even as they control both chambers of Congress and have the White House. They can't fight the cult of personality which Republican voters have become. They're waiting for the object of the voter's adulation to fade. 

    The object is simple and straightforward. Don't give Trump a reason to split the party. The GOP congress-critters will never develop a conscience. They know they've lost the House and they're willing to sacrifice the White House in 2020 so that the party elders will maintain control of the GOP, and the GOP won't have two-thirds of their voting base quit to start the "Trump" party. 


  4. Chewbacca  •  Jan 28, 2018 @1:18 pm

    Let's just hope the Dems are smart with this.  If the Mueller charges come out before the midterms, and as expected no action is taken, it needs to be front and center in terms of campaign issue.  And it better not be "Trump is a criminal", but instead, "the Republican party is criminal".   I have a feeling at least a dozen House seats can be picked off this way.

    If it comes out post-midterm, and the Dems have the House, impeach post-haste, and use the No votes in the Senate to wipe the floor in 2020.  People keep panicking about how bad the Dem Senate map is in 2018.  True.  But the GOP Senate map in 2020 is equally ugly.  If they hold the line in 2018, the Dems have a real shot at 60+ in 2020. 

    Question is, will they play hardball and win or will they try to play soft here and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

    Of course, I am not holding my breath, but what would really get my justice juices flowing is if the above scenario unfolds, they have both houses with filibuster proof majorities and the White House in 2020, and they finally, finally do something they should have done post-Bush — do a Truth and Reconciliation style full frontal assault on the GOP.  Let loose the various investigative powers, recommend prosecutions etc.  Of course, do it all above the board, but make it damn clear that if you go begging for Russian money, make up insane crap about Secret Societies, and in general endanger our democracy, you will not get off with a few finger wags.