Monday, June 12, 2017

Obstruction Case Against Trump Doubtful

Regular readers of this blog know I'm no fan of Donald Trump  His critics have been pronouncing him guilty of obstruction for days. His defenders have been doing what they always do - blaming everyone else. If I were making the call, I'd nix any plan to prosecute him, at least for the moment.

I'd recommend the Sidebars blog for a perspective on exactly what is needed to prove obstruction from a former federal prosecutor. The most difficult element is proving a corrupt intent. Based on the evidence that's out there, together with Trump's denial that he asked anything of Comey, this is a loser.

Personally, I believe Comey.  But would 12 people be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt? That's unlikely.    

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Obstruction of Justice about a crime which never has happened.

Anonymous said...

High crimes and misdemeanors. Oh yeah!

Anonymous said...

Have the Democrats at the national level, now that Comey proved there was no collusion by the Trump Campaign with the Russians, gotten so low that they believe profanity is the best method of opposition to the Trump Administration ?

The bag of hot air put together to explain Hillary Clinton's defeat has been thoroughly and completely deflated. This, while the real criminals of the Obama Administration are running around scot-free.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I believe Comey. He gets credit for pissing off both parties. But he seems like a professional mess and fame seeker dreaming about writing a novel or play and becoming the next Eugene O'Neill. His tenure at the FBI brought great shame and derision on the Bureau. The FBI became a laughing stock and Comey's the reason why.

Anonymous said...

"he seems like a professional mess and fame seeker "


^^ this. my thoughts exactly

Anonymous said...

How do you obstruct an investigation where there has been no crime? Collusion?

Trump didn’t give six-figure speeches to the Russians and then approve the sale of a majority stake in our uranium production to a Russian consortium. That was Hillary Clinton.

Where was the FBI or Special Prosecutor investigation about THOSE Russian connections ?

Anonymous said...

If you believe Comey, Loretta Lynch[ed] should be arrested for obstruction and collusion with the HRC campaign. I see nobody going after her and the main stream media refuses to address this.

Anonymous said...

OMG, Trump voters were taken in by the worst kind of used car salesman and are really not able to come to grips with it. They fall back on Clinton bashing because they've got nothing else. They cling to their conspiracy blowhards on infowars etc. and comfort themselves by gluing their eyes and ears to FOX and Friends just like the guy they elected. I hope he testifies under oath, perjury is inevitable. Just how many blatant lies is his base willing to swallow? We may find out...stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, Comey's admissions taint the entire Special Counsel effort. He and Mueller are life-long buddies. Comey met with Mueller beforehand to layout Comey's testimony. Comey worked under Mueller, and Comey claimed he leaked to the New York Times to encourage getting a Special Counsel. Comey's Assistant FBI Director recommended Mueller!

This investigation needs a NEW Special Counsel. Anything Mueller decides will be suspicious and challenged.

Anonymous said...

Comey should take that pending $10 million book deal. He will lose his law license. Stating on record he released privileged documents to the press through a cohort for the sheer purpose of causing the appointment of a special prosecuter, in a case that has been investigated for over 1 year, and no evidence exists of the Trump-russia witch hunt.

Gee, I da know...kinda sounds like a person who starts a massive forest fire to prove that his town really needs a paid fire dept

Comey's own father quoted on record prior to the election bashing the hell out of Trump

Comey himself said Trump is a liar, before he even met him

If Trump wanted to end the Flynn investigation he could have pardoned him

The only person who has legal problems is Comey

Anonymous said...

If nothing else, Comey presented the case of why he should have been fired. Weak, petty, emotional, and not a leader.

Loretta Lynch "directed" him to change the word investigation to matter. A crystal clear violation and he did it. And it never occurred to him to write up a memo "documenting" that instance. No. He just threw his integrity and whatever integrity was left of the FBI under a fast moving bus, did the deed, and went to bed where he could sleep like a kitten.

He also manipulated the entire government to bring about a special counsel. If I was Robert Mueller, I would be embarrassed that I was placed in that position and end this (if the AG's office doesn't). Mueller's entire investigation should be considered poisoned fruit and he needs to resign forthwith.

Anonymous said...

8:01 " Comey claimed he leaked to the New York Times to encourage getting a Special Counsel. Comey's Assistant FBI Director recommended Mueller!"

There is your criminality.

The Central Scrutinizer said...

Seems like you have a single Trumpkin who is well versed in the GOP talking points posting multiple times. To address the least of the absurd point:

* It was obstruction OF an investigation. An indictment isn't necessary to impede an investigation.
* Comey has not "proved" there is no collusion. That evidence still has not been revealed. If you are talking about his statement that the President is not under investigation, this is correct. But Nixon wasn't either. They don't start at the top. Lets wait to see who sings.
* Obama had the cleanest and most scandal-free Presidency in recent memory.

The "intent" in the matter is Trump asking to clear the room before he leaned on Comey.

Where are the tapes, President Trump?

It's very telling that the Trumpkins are not concerned in the least that the President has not spoken of or condemned the widespread and massive manipulation of the US's democratic process. They don't care one bit that we got owned by Vladimir Putin. Trump doesn't care because there has been an arrangement made. This is what the Special Counsel is investigation and why he brought in the top federal prosecutor in the nation. Follow the money - why do you think the DNI and NSA heads clam up when asked about knowledge of specific Russin banks? It will be a day of reckoning when the Trumpkins finally realize they are on the wrong side of history.

Anonymous said...

9:01 - Yeah, James Comey, a lifelong law enforcement officer who brought indictments for a living is too stupid to know the law in this matter. Nice deflection attempt and it will work with the Trump base of simpletons. But then again, so did Pizzagate. Fools.

Anonymous said...

Comey, like most lawyers, has no integrity.

Ovem Lupo Commitere said...

Trump and the Clintons have this in common: they seem to have the ability to be just one step ahead, or one person removed, from the "scandals", "gates", "corruption", etc. Where they are different, is that the man with such a sense of invincibility who "could stand in the middle of fifth avenue and shoot somebody", will eventually tweet himself in the foot enough times that he will ultimately be the cause of his own undoing. Hopefully he doesn't damage the institution of the presidency, or harm the country, until then.

It was asked many times last year, but how in a nation of 320 million people did we ultimately end up with such 2 flawed choices we had. Collectively, I guess the answer is "look in the mirror." I missed a handful of primaries in my youth, but between primaries and generals, I've voted in approx 60 elections. Like not going to church, I feel incredibly guilty if I don't vote even if its for "the lesser of two evils." So, in 2016 I rationalized myself to a vote. If 2020 gives us the same, I may "waste" my vote and write in someone.

What is "SAD" (as Trump would tweet) is how the polarization of American politics has infected even average voters to the point of "if you're not for us, you're against us" partisanship that blinds so many to accept things when "our guy/gal" does it, that would be rightfully unacceptable when "the other" does it. "A Republic, if you can keep it." But that takes vigilance.

Anonymous said...

A couple things on this thread:

Anon 726am, yesterday Sen. Feinstein (a liberal Democrat) said that Congress should look into what Lynch may have said or done in relation to Comey and the Clinton email investigation. She's right, it should be investigated.

It was interesting to note the questioning Comey got from both Republican and Democrat Senators showed how serious this is being taken. It wasn't a spectacle, questions were asked and answered completely, and Trump didn't get a free pass, as is most often the case with either party in a similar situation. We can discuss the content, but both parties did the right thing here.

I encourage everyone not to just read headlines. Go to Youtube and watch, make up your own mind on what was accomplished.

The Banker

Anonymous said...


Witch hunts never end until the crazed hunters are burned at the stake.
After Comey's confession that despite a complete absence of any wrong
doing, he instigated a Independent Counsel Witch Hunt.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:51 am:

How in the world did you come to the conclusion:
"Have the Democrats at the national level, now that Comey proved there was no collusion by the Trump Campaign with the Russians, gotten so low that they believe profanity is the best method of opposition to the Trump Administration ?"

Where, exactly, did he prove that?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Banker, I actually did just that over the weekend. I also did a considerable amount of reading on the subject of obstruction. Without question, the Senate committee was truly bipartisan, a rarity in an environment that has become increasingly partisan. I was very impressed by Comey, and it appears that the Senate was as well. In a war of credibility, he easily wins.

From reading, I know the following:

(1) the notion hat the President is above the law and cannot be obstructed, as Dershowitz has suggested, is absurd. There is actually Supreme Court law stating what we all should know - no one is above the law, not even the President. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/487/654/case.html

(2) The elements of obstruction of justice are there, but whether they exist beyond a reasonable doubt is unlikely. As disgusting as Trump looks, and he does look like a little man, I believe a prosecution would fail.

Anonymous said...

and for #2, it is just as absurd to obstruct justice for a crime which never occurred.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That is incorrect. You have no idea what you are talking about. There already is an investigation into Flynn,a grand jury investigation, and that constitutes a proceeding under which the obstruction statute comes into play. Drop the talking points and start doing some actual reading. It is very clear the elements are all there. They are just not there beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anonymous said...

11:00 Am. The New York Times. You really need to keep up.

Anonymous said...

12:15. What's the crime to obstruct?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Where, exactly, did he prove that?"

He did not.He stated that there is no doubt in his mind that the Russians attempted to interfere with this investigation. The FBI is investigating the Trump campaign for possible collusion. There is no evidence this far that Trump is personally involved in any collusion, if it exists. Comey was unwilling to so state publicly bc the ongoing investigation could eventually point to him. He discussed releasing a public statement, but DOJ advised against it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"12:15. What's the crime to obstruct?"

There does not have to be an underlying crime to obstruct. 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) applies to anyone who “corruptly obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.” The FBI investigation is not a proceeding, but the Grand Jury investigation into Flynn is a proceeding, as are the multiple congressional committees who are investigating this matter. The government would have to prove that Trump was aware of one or more of these proceedings, which would be rather facile.

Next time, do a little more reading before you talk out your ass.

Anonymous said...

12:28 "There does not have to be an underlying crime to obstruct."

So it's really nothing more than a whichhunt because you don't like Trump.

Canary_In_Coalmine said...

Bernie:

Do you agree that the President's actions don't need to qualify as criminal obstruction for impeachment? That mere abuse of power would be sufficient grounds for impeachment for a willing House and Senate? Do you have an opinion on whether abuse of power has occurred?

Anonymous said...

How many more government documents did Comey leak and when did he leak them ?

There is your crime Mr O'Hare.

Anonymous said...

However, I suppose the real unanswered question from the Comey hearing is that Comey stated that the Justice Department and FBI have to be apolitical.

The question to Comey on that statement is "Doesn't your and Loretta Lynch's special treatment of Hillary Clinton show how much politics actually influenced the decision not to charge her, despite her obvious guilt? Can you give any other examples where a government official trafficked classified documents for years and was not charged?"

Anonymous said...

1:45PM appears to believe that Comey would commit a criminal act and then incriminate himself by voluntarily revealing same under oath on national TV.

He/she may also believe that a former FBI director with no known history of lying is less credible than a President who has admitted under oath to telling more than 30 lies, plus countless others documented during the campaign.

I'd love to know what 1:45PM sees here that I don't.




Anonymous said...

1:59. "I'd love to know what 1:45PM sees here that I don't."

26 U.S. Code § 7213 - Unauthorized disclosure of information

It shall be unlawful for any officer or employee of the United States or any person described in section 6103(n) (or an officer or employee of any such person), or any former officer or employee, willfully to disclose to any person, except as authorized in this title, any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)). Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable upon conviction by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution, and if such offense is committed by any officer or employee of the United States, he shall, in addition to any other punishment, be dismissed from office or discharged from employment upon conviction for such offense.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/7213

Anonymous said...

'12:15. What's the crime to obstruct?"

your answer was great, Bernie. This is a bumper sticker statement put out by the Fox and fiends groupies. They cannot grasp the nuance of obstruction of justice. There does not have to end up bei9ng a "crime" if you are attempting to obstruct an investigation. If your intent was to obstruct or impede the investigation into the "possible" crime, you obstructed.
What is so hard to understand? Forget the talking heads on Breibart, Drudge and Fox. Just think a little harder than bumper sticker logic. Also I do agree that at this point there is not enough hard evidence to charge Trump with anything. However, that may change and that is in a court of law. The Congress does not have the same threshold of necessary evidence to proceed.

Anonymous said...

2:47

"any return or return information"

The paragraph quoted appears to describe tax returns. I am unaware of Comey making any disclosures about Trump's tax returns.

Is there something else you see here that I don't?



Anonymous said...

Thanks Bernie, I know you do your homework, but some of the comments I see in the blogosphere... just say it gets interesting.

For what it's worth I agree with you on Trump and your conclusions on the obstruction case.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Donald Trump s keeping jobs in America and illegal aliens out! Case closed!

Bill Maurer said...


Anyone watching too many news programs is aware there are conflicting opinions as to whether Trump is guilty of an obstruction charge. There is general agreement that there is a "prima facie" case to continue investigation. Conviction in impeachment requires 2/3 vote in the Senate which is impossible at this time even if the dominant Republican house would initiate the charge.
However, Trump and his children have almost certain financial dealings with foreign governments including the Russians about which they have been secretive and very likely dishonest. These improprieties are much easier to prove.
Also if Trump had knowledge or complicity with the Russian interference in the election it is important to remember he was a private citizen at the time, unable to claim executive privilege and vulnerable to the criminal prosecution any ordinary citizen has. His end will come when he lies under oath or has his taxes subpoenaed.

Anonymous said...

My Democratic friends. I understand that you're disappointed that former FBI Director Comey said that there was no FBI investigation of President Trump. He said that no less than three times to him, according to his sworn testimony in front of the Senate last week.

Now I understand that may disappoint many of you. It's quite understandable since you were disappointed in Mrs. Clinton's loss in the election last November and now, seven months later, you learned that there was no FBI investigation of President Trump. But remember my friends, there are Congressional elections in 2018, which really aren't all that far off. Your candidates are going to have to come to the voters and campaign for re-election. Remember, people vote for positive things and achievements, such as Obamacare, and the elimination of jobs in the fossil fuel industries, promoting electric cars and solar electricity.. making peace with Iran, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and opening our borders to anyone who wants to live here; no matter what our Immigration Laws say. Things such as that which people can vote for.

Now, do you believe that when your representative comes looking for votes, they run on a platform of "I stopped Trump", or "We investigated Trump for the past two years and found nothing, but we're still investigating him because we're sure he did something criminal, but haven't found it yet".

Now, if you want to drive the Democratic Party into the ground some more, please, be my guest, because that's exactly what you are doing. Unless you want to join the vast majority of Americans who want to Make America Greater by working with President Trump to improve our great land.

It's up to you.

Anonymous said...

You all can debate this circus until the clowns come home but why? The Feds can't even put Fed Ed away, why would you expect them to get this right? The small fries get fried while the big cats skate.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:47, 26 U.S. Code § 7213 relates to the unauthorized disclosure of tax returns. Are you suggesting that Comey leaked tax returns? If not, move on. All you are proving is your own stupidity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"My Democratic friends. I understand that you're disappointed that former FBI Director Comey said that there was no FBI investigation of President Trump. He said that no less than three times to him, according to his sworn testimony in front of the Senate last week."

Your Democratic friends, and I doubt you have them when you are so condescending, never expected Comey to confirm that Trump is under investigation himself for collusion with Russia. What they expected to hear and what they did hear were the circumstances related to Comey's departure from the FBI. What we learned is that Trump attempted to turn Comey into one of his yes men; that he actually did engage in obstruction of justice (even of it does not rise to the criminal level); forced the AG out of the room so he could pressure the FBI Director alone; demanded loyalty over honesty; demonstrated no loyalty himself bc he was perfectly willing to let some of his satellites be thrown under the bus; and that he lied about Comey and the FBI.

He's a disgrace who does not belong in any office.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Donald Trump s keeping jobs in America and illegal aliens out! Case closed!"

I see. He is an authoritarian and so long as he acts tough, who cares what he does? No one is above the law.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How many more government documents did Comey leak and when did he leak them ?

There is your crime Mr O'Hare."


You have established no violation of law and now are just guessing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The question to Comey on that statement is "Doesn't your and Loretta Lynch's special treatment of Hillary Clinton show how much politics actually influenced the decision not to charge her"

Actually, it is Comey who drew very public attention to Loretta Lynch's attempt to interfere in the Clinton investigation,and she is being hauled in to explain it. As for why Clinton herself was not charged, the judgment call that Comey made is actually very consistent with other federal employees. In that case, there is little evidence that Clinton acted with criminal intent. I believe there is evidence that Trump acted with criminal intent when he obstructed the Flynn investigation, but doubt that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Feds are very leery of filing charges until they are convinced they have a winner.

Anonymous said...

Both Clinton and Trump are self-serving opportunists and I was sadden that we as a country offered up those two flawed individuals for President. That being said, how can you scream lock her up on Clinton who was investigated by Republicans for years and found wanting for any criminal charges; yet, ignore the same concerns with Trump and scream about any investigation into his dealings with Comey and/or the Russians.

Consistency appears to be a virtue.

Jeffrey Anthony said...

I don't always agree with you these days, Bernie, but here your reasoning is tough to refute. Always informative to read your unique perspective, sir...

Anonymous said...

Annouced this week, GE jobs from Paul Ryan's district are moving to Canada. No reason to celebrate, however, just another example how trump supporters beleive everything on his twitter feed.

Anonymous said...

Today's cabinet meeting I mean episode of the apprentice, paints him for the fool he is, without a doubt...

Anonymous said...

Is that why "sticks" Pa"low"ski is still a free man, not enough to stick?

Bernie O'Hare said...

The evidence against him is overwhelming. The failure to charge him is the result of many changes in personnel at the UA Attorney's office, coupled with the usual thorough review. But his day of reckoning is coming.

Anonymous said...

Trump had dinner with a Russian. The sky is fall ling, the sky is falling.

Isn't that what the President of the United States is supposed to be doing ?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many times Comey leaked information to the press with respect to the Clinton E-mail investigation or any investigation of the current president.

Anonymous said...

7:41 overwhelming evidence of what crime ?

This sounds like the Salem witch hunts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Give it a rest. Seven people have pleaded guilty, including the two people closest to him. He's going down. You are incidentally off topic.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:43, Between a straight-laced G-man and an accomplished real estate swindler and proven liar, I'll take Comey.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:40 Not one person has criticized Trump for having dinner with a Russian. He's been criticized for his intimidation tactics, loyalty demands and possible obstruction of justice.

Anonymous said...

the Democrats love mr trump.
he is the best gift ever.
single handedly he is destroying any credibility the republicans had.
watching them trying to twist reality to appease the donald is just pure entertainment.
when the republicans figure out that trumpie could destroy THEIR careers they will toss him out.
the Democrats want to slowly twist the knife into trump and the republicans.
so if anyone wants trumpie to resign it will be the republicans

Anonymous said...

"My Democratic friends. I understand that you're disappointed that former FBI Director Comey said that there was no FBI investigation of President Trump. He said that no less than three times to him, according to his sworn testimony in front of the Senate last week."

What Comey said was that during the time Comey was FBI director, there was not an FBI investigation of President Trump for collusion with Russians. Meaning that up until May 9, there was not an FBI investigation of President Trump.

President Trump and his hopeful supporters translate the above into a statement that Trump is innocent of any wrongdoing. It's no such thing. There are active investigations of Trump associates and strong indications of crimes. There is now a special prosecutor looking at Russian election interference, despite reports of Trump's puzzling outrage over same. It's too soon to call for the President's impeachment, just as it's too soon to claim this is nothing.

Anonymous said...

We all live in orange submarine, orange submarine, orange submarine.