Mr. Trump recently sent a tweet stating that he fired his National Security Advisor Former General Michael Flynn because he lied to the FBI. This is a departure from Mr. Trump’s statements about why he fired Flynn at the time of the firing. At that time, Mr. Trump indicated that he fired him because Flynn lied to the Vice President. Lying to the Vice President is not a crime. It is, however, unethical and a cause for being fired. Lying to the FBI is a crime.
Mr. Trump’s tweet could be construed as either a Freudian slip or an admission of guilt. Either way, they indicate that he may have known that Flynn lied to the FBI when he was fired. Before Flynn was fired, Trump had, according to former FBI Director James B. Comey, asked him (Comey) to go easy on Flynn at the time that Mr. Comey was in charge of investigating Russian influence on the 2016 Presidential Election and the Trump Campaign. That could be considered Obstruction of Justice.
According to Wex Legal Dictionary, “Obstruction of justice is defined in the omnibus clause of 18 U.S.C. § 1503, which provides that "whoever . . . . corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be (guilty of an offense)." Persons are charged under this statute based on allegations that a defendant intended to interfere with an official proceeding, by doing things such as destroying evidence, or interfering with the duties of jurors or court officers.
A person obstructs justice when they have a specific intent to obstruct or interfere with a judicial proceeding. For a person to be convicted of obstructing justice, they must not only have the specific intent to obstruct the proceeding, but the person must know (1) that a proceeding was actually pending at the time; and (2) there must be a nexus between the defendant’s endeavor to obstruct justice and the proceeding, and the defendant must have knowledge of this nexus.
§ 1503 applies only to federal judicial proceedings. Under § 1505, however, a defendant can be convicted of obstruction of justice by obstructing a pending proceeding before Congress or a federal agency. A pending proceeding could include an informal investigation by an executive agency.”
According to a memo that Director Comey wrote shortly after an Oval Office meeting he had with Trump in February, President Trump told FBI Director Comey to “Shut down the investigation into Flynn.” The memo further states that President Trump told Comey “I hope you can let this go.”
If Mr. Trump did, in fact, fire Flynn for lying to the FBI and he did so either before or soon after he had told FBI Director Comey to shut down the investigation on Flynn, then that could be considered Obstruction of Justice.
Obstruction of Justice is, among other things, an attempt to impede or alter an investigation that could lead to the prosecution of a crime. The President is the Chief Executive of every government department including the Department of Justice. If Mr. Trump knew that Flynn lied to the FBI and told the Chief Investigator of the FBI probe into collusion between The Trump Campaign and the Russian Government then that could be considered an attempt to impeded and / or alter that investigation thereby being an Obstruction of Justice. Further, because President Trump was Director Comey’s boss at the time, it could be considered an act of coercion.
Obstruction of Justice could be considered an impeachable offense. It is a crime and a felony to boot. There are those who have said that the President is immune from being charged with obstruction of Justice. That, however, is based on ignorance. Just ask anyone who knows about U.S. President Richard Nixon. One of his articles of impeachment was Obstruction of Justice. Nixon resigned to avoid an impeachment vote. President Nixon, however, had a Senate with a Democratic Party majority to deal with.
If Mr. Trump is put into the same position he may not choose to resign, because while Nixon had a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, Mr. Trump has the luxury of a Republican majority in both the House & the Senate. It may be unlikely that Republicans will vote to impeach a sitting President. If the Democrats get a majority during the 2018 elections, Mr. Trump might feel differently. Most impeachment votes are party driven and Senators often vote along party lines. President Trump is, at this moment just six Senate votes away from impeachment. The 2018 Senate elections could spell disaster for his Presidency.
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