Some of my readers expressed skepticism about my suggestion that Comey was fired because Donald Trump wants to halt the Russia investigation. I have talked to friends on the phone that objected to this thesis. We don’t need to speculate any longer thanks to our aggressive press core. Donald Trump was interviewed by Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News and he said: “And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, [fire James Comey] I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’” Note the highlighted area. Trump links the firing of James Comey with “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia.”
The Trump Dismissal Letter
We were tipped off to Trump’s true motive for firing Comey when he released his letter of dismissal. The second paragraph of the letter says, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”
The initial narrative given by the White House suggested that the chain of events that lead to Comey’s termination was initiated by a letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. I was suspicious of this line, in part, because of the curious sentence of the dismissal letter quoted above. What does the Russia investigation have to do with how Clinton was treated during the campaign?
Obstruction of Justice
I also suggested that Trump may be guilty of obstruction of justice in my last post. I would like to defend that claim here.
William Yeomans is a Fellow in Law and Government at American University Law School. Yeomans succinctly describes the conditions that must be met for a legal declaration of obstruction in an article he wrote for The Hill:
Obstruction of justice is both a federal crime and a well-established ground for impeachment. Under federal statutes, it is a crime to act with the specific intent to obstruct or interfere with a judicial or congressional proceeding, or a proceeding before a federal agency (such as an investigation). The proceeding must be pending at the time of the conduct and the defendant must know it.
1. Action with specific intent
2. Interference with a judicial or congressional proceeding, or a proceeding before a federal agency (such as an investigation)
3. The investigation must be pending at the time of the act of interference
4. The actor must know they are interfering with a federal proceeding
These elements overlap, but the actions are clear. Trump seems to have fulfilled all of these requirements. He committed the act of firing in order to halt the FBI’s investigation into the “Russia thing with Trump and Russia.”
Let’s quote him again and insert the relevant elements:
“And, in fact, when I decided to [Element 1] just do it, [fire James Comey] [ Element 2] I said to myself, I said: ‘You know,[Element 1] this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”
It is obvious that the investigation is ongoing because James Comey testified to it and that Trump knew about it, thus fulfilling elements 3 and 4.