Late Tuesday Washington time NBC disclosed that there existed a memo written by former FBI head Jim Comey where he records his shock at President Trump having asked him to end the FBI investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
What did the President actually do?
Lawyers are lining up to appear on news shows to say this is an obvious violation of law. Of course, the sitting President is immune from any prosecution through the regular legal system, but it could be an impeachable offense. You can’t charge a President with a crime in a federal court, but you can in the Senate.
In this instance, the alleged crime, obstruction of justice, may seem minor, but it is exactly what destroyed Nixon and what Clinton was charged with.
It is important to remember that impeachment can be because of a major crime but under the constitution, it can be for some very minor crime (“High crimes and misdemeanors”), essentially permitting the Congress to remove an official who is simply unfit.
One element of proving obstruction of justice is consciousness of guilt. In other words, even if you say “please don’t investigate such and such,” that isn’t legally criminal obstruction IF it was clearly not serious. One way to indicate consciousness of guilt is whether the individual tried to conceal his request.
Comey’s memo reportedly describes the meeting which was about national security and included Vice President Pence and U.S. Attorney General Sessions. But just before asking Comey to end the Flynn investigation the President asked Sessions and Pence to leave the Oval Office.
Perhaps that was innocent and the President was just stupid, but it certainly looks like consciousness of guilt and zero Congressional Republicans have actually come to his defense.
As one law professor said on TV, “If you are about to do something you know is illegal you don’t want witnesses.”
The other big requirement for proving obstruction of justice would be whether the person had any way to enforce their request.
A few weeks after Comey had obviously ignored the request, he was fired only three years into his ten-year appointment. Even worse the President eventually contradicted all his spokespersons by stating in an interview that he was thinking of the Russia investigation when he decided to fire Comey.
Conservatives Turn on President
From The National Review to Fox News, more and more reports about Donald Trump are turning negative in conservative media.
The very conservative National Review magazine said in a headline, “Trump’s Defense of his Russia Leak is Not Reassuring.”
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith began his coverage on Tuesday (May 16) by saying that what President Trump did (disclosing secret information to Russians) was not illegal, which is absolutely true.
Although the same action would result in a long jail term for anyone else who did what he did – as sitting President Trump is insulated by his office from normal questions of legality, and he is the one person in government who can declassify anything.
But the Fox News anchor then turned to all the tweets from Candidate Trump saying how Candidate Clinton was careless with classified information and can’t be trusted.
“Crooked Hillary Clinton and her team “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Not fit!”
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2016
“Hillary Clinton should not be given national security briefings in that she is a lose cannon with extraordinarily bad judgement & insticts.”
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2016
Mr. Smith also described “Trump’s Classified Info Issue ‘Potentially Far more Dangerous’ than Anything Hillary Did.” Trump supporter Judge Andrew Napolitano says “these are the most serious accusations leveled against a sitting president in the modern era.”
That is significant because legal experts point out that it can’t be illegal for a President to declassify something, it can be dumb, ill-advised, and, above all, a violation of his oath of office to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.” Definitely an impeachable offense.
Ann Coulter Fears Trump “Haters” Were Right!
Fox Insider is reporting that conservative Trump supporter Ann Coulter is on the fence about Trump after a year of solid cheerleading for Candidate and then President Trump.
In an interview with The Daily Caller on Sunday, Coulter said she still has hope in Trump, but she is ready to jump ship if things don’t change.
“I’m not very happy with what has happened so far,” Coulter said. “I guess we have to try to push him to keep his promises. But this isn’t North Korea, and if he doesn’t keep his promises, I’m out. This is why we voted for him. I think everyone who voted for him knew his personality was grotesque, it was the issues.”
Ms. Coulter also told the reporter that she supported Trump because he said all the right things in the campaign but is afraid now that “the Trump-haters were right,” which she said would be a “nightmare.”