The Trump team doesn’t take kindly to affronts. Even in the face of mountains of evidence suggesting criminal and even just unethical activity, their preferred mode of operation continues to prove “Deny, deny, deny.” This past week on Twitter, presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani freaked out over the suggestion from Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano that the recently revealed final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation proves an obstruction of justice case against President Donald Trump himself. The problem is — Giuliani’s defense of Trump’s obstruction as not really obstruction is baseless.
‘I consider Judge Napolitano to be a friend so I write this with regret. An obstruction case where there is no proof of an underlying crime is questionable. If you add to it nothing actually obstructed, there’s no case. Judge reconsider your position. This is a Weismann.’
So Giuliani’s argument is twofold, and in a sense self-defeating. On the one hand, we’re supposed to take his word for it that obstructing a proceeding that ends up not revealing any criminally prosecutable activity is a-okay. On top of that, Giuliani wants us to believe that Trump never even successfully obstructed anything in the first place.
Neither of those assertions line up with reality. As an easy example — a grand jury approved charges against longtime Trump associate Roger Stone for criminal charges centering on obstruction of justice. However, he has not been charged with any crime for the behavior he was seeking to conceal, which included trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to coordinate the Trump team with WikiLeaks in the lead-up to the 2016 election. Although the Trump team certainly has plenty of hot air to spew in rebuffing those particular charges — Giuliani’s overall contention is that obstruction of justice isn’t even a crime at all if the defendant doesn’t have a criminally prosecutable backstory, and the evidence just doesn’t back that up.
Neither do the actual facts of the story support the lawyer’s contention that Trump was never substantive in his obstruction efforts. He literally fired the head of the FBI with an eye for getting the “cloud” of the Russia investigation the agency director had been leading away from over his head. On numerous other occasions, Trump clearly sought to derail the Russia probe, and at numerous junctures was only thwarted by aides refusing to carry out potentially illegal orders.
Giuliani’s defense against all of this is: “Trump didn’t do it! But if he did it’s not a crime!”
Former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah replied to Giuliani:
‘This is 100% wrong as a legal & factual matter. Obstruction is – & must be – prosecutable regardless of an underlying crime or else “successful” obstructors would always be rewarded. Also, the obstruction was of 1) the Russian attack which Trump continues to deny & 2) “any” crimes Mueller could’ve found along the way while investigating Trump (see SDNY & other referrals) & 3) I do believe some of the attempts were successful like the Manafort pardon dangling.’
Ultimately, Mueller’s team declined to pursue a criminal case against the president at least in part because of standing Justice Department precedent against indicting a sitting president — not because of a clear lack of guilt.
Check out Twitter’s response…
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