Despite President Donald Trump’s best efforts — federal investigative authorities are still doing their job, including via bringing those guilty of obstruction of justice to accountability for their actions. This weekend, Virginia resident Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie, aka Haji Raghe, was arrested for lying to the FBI about his own voice on a recording they obtained of a terrorism suspect leaving a voicemail message on his cellphone. He continued on with his lie through a number of further false statements when questioned about his misrepresentation. He had been working at the time as a linguist for the FBI, translating communications the agency obtained featuring the terror suspect in question.
Wehelie could face up to 25 years in prison for his crimes, although it’s certainly possible and perhaps even more likely that he faces a sentence considerably less than that, which is just the maximum. He’s been charged with making false statements to government officials and obstruction of a federal investigation. There’s no apparent criminally prosecutable connection between him and the unnamed terrorism suspect, but the obstruction case is proceeding all the same.
In response to the Russia scandal’s conclusion, President Trump’s team has insisted that without criminally prosecutable underlying behavior, there can be no obstruction of justice charge. This case easily proves them wrong yet again alongside the other available evidence, like the clearly established legal guidelines for the charge and a standing obstruction case against longtime Trump associate Roger Stone in which the behavior he sought to conceal has not culminated in any criminal charges.
On almost a dozen occasions, Trump was himself suspected to have engaged in obstruction of justice, and in most cases, Mueller’s team concluded that the relevant intent was there. He was constrained in bringing a criminal case by standing Justice Department precedent against indicting a sitting president — and according to a new letter signed by over 400 former federal prosecutors and counting, that’s the only constraint. They see a clear criminal case against the president.
The authority in part responsible for the case against the FBI linguist that serves as further support of the veracity of that notion is no small figure. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gillis is prosecuting the case, having helped bring a criminal case against former associates of Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn for participation in the scheme to secretly lobby on the Turkish government’s behalf in the U.S. He also served as a lead on the Justice Department’s task force for responding to complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in connection to the 2018 midterm elections. He’s prosecuting the Wehelie case in the Eastern District of Virginia, where former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was declared guilty of numerous financial crimes by a jury.
Although Trump has rebuffed the justice system at every turn, it could still be coming for him. He will eventually be a private citizen again, and at that time, prosecutors could come for him with an obstruction of justice case and one covering other alleged crimes, like bank, insurance, and tax fraud that’s currently under investigation inside and outside of Congress.
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