Someone obstructs justice when that person has a specific intent to obstruct or interfere with a judicial proceeding. For a person to be convicted of obstructing justice, that person must not only have the specific intent to obstruct the proceeding, but that person must know (1) that a proceeding was actually pending at the time; and (2) there must be a connection between the endeavor to obstruct justice and the proceeding, and the person must have knowledge of this connection.
§ 1503 applies only to federal judicial proceedings. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1505, however, a defendant can be convicted of obstruction of justice by obstructing a pending proceeding before Congress or a federal administrative agency. A pending proceeding could include an informal investigation by an executive agency.
What, exactly, are the Democrats claiming? We’ll ask James Comey —
“It sure looks like he did, in connection with a couple episodes — the direction to (former White House counsel) Don McGahn to get the special counsel fired is to my mind a flaming example” of criminal intent, Comey said.
First of all, who the hell is Don McGahn? He was White House Counsel from President Trump’s inauguration through October 2018. And what did President Trump do or not do?
From the NY Times:
Trump tried to fire Mueller.
After learning in June 2017 that he was under investigation for obstruction of justice, Mr. Trump ordered the White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II over the phone to have the Justice Department fire Mr. Mueller based on the president’s views that the special counsel had conflicts of interest. Mr. Trump backed off after Mr. McGahn refused to carry out the directive and prepared to resign in protest.
Here’s the NY Time’s analysis. Is it obstruction?
Potentially. While acknowledging that removing him would not have prevented the investigation from continuing, Mr. Mueller wrote that such an act nevertheless may have “had the potential to delay further action in the investigation, chill the actions of any replacement special counsel or otherwise impede the investigation.”
LINKED TO AN INVESTIGATION?
Yes. Among other things, the report cited evidence that Mr. Trump “knew he should not have made those calls” because Mr. McGahn had warned him he should use his personal lawyers to submit any conflict complaints, not use his official powers to remove the special counsel.
Bottom line: While Mr. Mueller hedged a bit on the first of the three criteria, the report suggests there is sufficient evidence to ask a grand jury to consider charging this act as illegal obstruction.
This is so thin. President Trump asks his attorney if he can do something, the attorney says no and moreover threatens to quit, the president says “gotcha.” And this is somehow “obstruction of justice.” Sorry, I don’t get it.
Scott Adams’ take was that in any big boy negotiations, if your attorney doesn’t say they’d quit first, you haven’t pushed them far enough.
You can read the rest of the NY Times article if you like.I think it’s all pretty silly but that’s where we are.
In some ways, it would be interesting to see Trump charged with Obstruction of Justice only because it would eventually turn on whether a president has to sit quietly by while the House of Representatives creates a situation where his own Justice Department attempts to find a means to remove him from office. In effect, attempting to remove a president not through the impeachment process but through other means.
Remembering, of course, that Obstruction of Justice is a process crime and that, in fact, no Obstruction of Justice occurred. In all instances, the president asked his staff to do something and then said “no, you can’t do that” and he said “well, I don’t like it but OK.”
Additionally, if the judicial proceeding itself was illegal as many of us believe it was, then wouldn’t the president have the obligation to shut it down for the good of the country? He certainly couldn’t be forced from office for resisting the attempts of an illegal investigation — could he?
As opposed to real crimes such as destroying government emails, permanently wiping them with Bleachbit software, and handling classified material improperly.
In a broader sense, if a president expects a coup is being plotted by members of the opposition party through the use of the Justice Department, does he have to simply take it and leave quietly? It would make a great Supreme Court case particularly if the president had the conspirators arrested. It would be on then!