Re the Matter of Acts of Obstruction of Justice Committed by Trump: STATEMENT BY FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTORS

We are former federal prosecutors. We served under both Republican and Democratic administrations at different levels of the federal system: as line attorneys, supervisors, special prosecutors, United States Attorneys, and senior officials at the Department of Justice. The offices in which we served were small, medium, and large; urban, suburban, and rural; and located in all parts of our country.

Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.

The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. These include:

· The President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort;

· The President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and

· The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.

Attempts to fire Mueller and then create false evidence

Despite being advised by then-White House Counsel Don McGahn that he could face legal jeopardy for doing so, Trump directed McGahn on multiple occasions to fire Mueller or to gin up false conflicts of interest as a pretext for getting rid of the Special Counsel. When these acts began to come into public view, Trump made “repeated efforts to have McGahn deny the story” — going so far as to tell McGahn to write a letter “for our files” falsely denying that Trump had directed Mueller’s termination.

Firing Mueller would have seriously impeded the investigation of the President and his associates — obstruction in its most literal sense. Directing the creation of false government records in order to prevent or discredit truthful testimony is similarly unlawful. The Special Counsel’s report states: “Substantial evidence indicates that in repeatedly urging McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the Special Counsel terminated, the President acted for the purpose of influencing McGahn’s account in order to deflect or prevent scrutiny of the President’s conduct toward the investigation.”

Attempts to limit the Mueller investigation

The report describes multiple efforts by the president to curtail the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation.

First, the President repeatedly pressured then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his legally-mandated decision to recuse himself from the investigation. The President’s stated reason was that he wanted an attorney general who would “protect” him, including from the Special Counsel investigation. He also directed then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to fire Sessions and Priebus refused.

Second, after McGahn told the President that he could not contact Sessions himself to discuss the investigation, Trump went outside the White House, instructing his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to carry a demand to Sessions to direct Mueller to confine his investigation to future elections. Lewandowski tried and failed to contact Sessions in private. After a second meeting with Trump, Lewandowski passed Trump’s message to senior White House official Rick Dearborn, who Lewandowski thought would be a better messenger because of his prior relationship with Sessions. Dearborn did not pass along Trump’s message.

As the report explains, “[s]ubstantial evidence indicates that the President’s effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct” — in other words, the President employed a private citizen to try to get the Attorney General to limit the scope of an ongoing investigation into the President and his associates.

All of this conduct — trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others — is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions.

Witness tampering and intimidation

The Special Counsel’s report establishes that the President tried to influence the decisions of both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort with regard to cooperating with investigators. Some of this tampering and intimidation, including the dangling of pardons, was done in plain sight via tweets and public statements; other such behavior was done via private messages through private attorneys, such as Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani’s message to Cohen’s lawyer that Cohen should “[s]leep well tonight[], you have friends in high places.”

Of course, these aren’t the only acts of potential obstruction detailed by the Special Counsel. It would be well within the purview of normal prosecutorial judgment also to charge other acts detailed in the report.

We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment. Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. In our system, every accused person is presumed innocent and it is always the government’s burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice — the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution — runs counter to logic and our experience.

As former federal prosecutors, we recognize that prosecuting obstruction of justice cases is critical because unchecked obstruction — which allows intentional interference with criminal investigations to go unpunished — puts our whole system of justice at risk. We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report.

If you are a former federal prosecutor and would like to add your name below, click here. Protect Democracy will update this list daily with new signatories.

To date more than 700 current and former federal prosecutors have signed this statement...

Views: 59

Comment by Ron Powell on May 19, 2019 at 4:37pm

This post was inspired by Doc Vega who continues to drink the koolaid of ignorance and wrongheadedness on this matter:

Doc, more than 700 current and former federal prosecutors, of various backgrounds, experience, and political persuasions, have signed this letter stating that you, and those who think and believe as you do, are emphatically, unequivocally, undeniably, and reliably wrong....

Comment by koshersalaami on May 19, 2019 at 4:55pm

Thanks, Ron. I hadn’t seen this. 

Are we reaching the point where the AG should be dis Barr ed? 

Comment by Ron Powell on May 19, 2019 at 4:59pm

Some would say that he has dis-Barr-ed himself...

Comment by Doc Vega on May 20, 2019 at 4:19am

Let's see, just because you would love to impeach the president we can now rely on the thought police Ron to prosecute a president who has busted his ass attempting to keep the Democrats from transforming America into a third world shit hole! Because Donald Trump did not implement an illegal act of obstruction! A man who donated a million to the city of Houston, 100 thousand to a black Louisiana Church rather than burn it down and write "Vote Trump" on the side of it like black folks who are such loyal Democrats! Oh, and he doesn't even take a salary it gets donated! Unlike the previous Oval office occupant who caused an unprecedented 8 years of decline, used code speech to promote racial strife, and even aided and abetted our enemies (Iran) and when first arriving in the US applied for federal aid for college as a foreign student? And never paid that loan back! So, when Hillary was allowed to have a home server in violation of the Logan Act, destroy cell phones, laptops, and even instruct her staff to disguise classified documents as routine when illegally emailing them outside State Department protocols?   

So, when a President attempting to undo 8 years of pathetic executive level performance is labeled as a bigot, racist, and Hitler while authorizing the greatest economic performance in decades, a Middle Class tax break, highest employment figures on record for Blacks and Latinos, stopped North Korea from threatening our country, is on the verge of improving international trade deals in favor of the US we can impeach a man who was at times frustrated and angry over being continually attacked yet committed no act of obstruction. 

Ron, have you ever wanted to hurt someone you were mad at? Of course, as far as we know, you didn't, but should you be prosecuted for wanting too? Do we now have thought police Ron? Is this the new definition of legality? Grow up! All of you!

Comment by koshersalaami on May 20, 2019 at 4:45am

You have a very bizarre view of history. Obama prevented economic collapse that happened during the Bush administration by a very necessary bailout, particularly of GM, which worked. The private server thing was also done by Colin Powell, but you don’t believe in calling Republicans on anything. So was running a family foundation donated to by international contacts. From a tax standpoint, the middle class will not be better off under Trump, they’ll be worse - you haven’t looked at the whole package. Trump’s package mainly favors the very rich.

Trump isn’t Hitler. However, he is supported by serious bigots, protects them, and has legitimized their public expression of bigotry, which is why hate crimes have risen during his administration. Some of those hate crimes have been murders, including a couple at synagogues, so I’m kind of aware of that. This is surprising given that he has Jewish family but politics apparently comes first, which is why a guy like Bannon ever had an office in the White House. His “good people on both sides” remark is one of the most disgraceful made by a President in the modern era. 

Are you really going to blame Ron for the fact that a bipartisan group of extremely experienced federal prosecutors have jointly concluded that the President obstructed justice? Are you going to blame him for Rep. Justin Amash’s (R-MI) conclusion after reading through the redacted Mueller report very carefully that his President obstructed justice and that there are grounds for impeachment? Those issues aren’t political, they’re legal. No group of prosecutors like that came out with a statement like that about Obama because they didn’t have grounds for one. Unlike Trump, Obama has a very clear understanding of the law. 

The intelligence community has been utterly unambiguous about Russia’s role in interfering with the last election. If Russia had intervened on behalf of Democrats, you’d be screaming for their execution, but they did so on behalf of your party, so you’re doing what most of the rest of Republicans are doing and accepting treason because it benefits your side. 

It’s so embarrassing how much more of a patriot Obama was than you are. 

Comment by Ron Powell on May 20, 2019 at 5:05am

Doc, the meaning of this statement and the fact that over 700 prosecutors signed it is really quite simple.

The law enforcement officials who signed the statement are saying in effect that; If Trump were a ham sandwich, he'd be on his way to prison....

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 20, 2019 at 6:49am

I suppose that the 700 prosecutors are simply denizens of the swamp Trump was elected to drain?

"Everyone is out of step but Johnny"?

That we, liberal Democrats, would love to see the president impeached is true, but the end of that statement, "we can now rely on the thought police Ron to prosecute a president who has busted his ass attempting to keep the Democrats from transforming America into a third world shit hole!"  is bizarre.  What we are trying to do with impeachment is to prevent Trump and his alt right cronies from placing us in a permanent third world position.  We are already judged by international "thought police" to be a "flawed democracy" due to loss of confidence in our government, media, and other failures within the system.  Those failures are accentuated by an administration that continues to attempt to create an autocratic administration.  The loss of confidence in our government has been created by a grid-locked congress that refuses to act in the interest of average Americans.  The loss of confidence in the media has been created by right wing media that have promulgated the idea that any medium that doesn't agree with them is putting out "fake news".

Comment by Doc Vega on May 23, 2019 at 3:24am

Kosher let me straighten out your typical drooling drivel! Obama did not stop a financial crisis that was planned by the banks! let's examine Obama's economic performance with a 787 dollar bail out that nationalized 2 of 3 major US car makers lending them billions! GM took their bail out and recently laid off employees to open a foreign plant! Obama gave hundreds of millions to the news networks when they did not even need a bailout! He even gave money to bankrupted leftist publishers who were hardly read at all! Why? To buy influence and favorable coverage! Obama never delivered the promised 5% infrastructure! But he did flood Democrat coffers with re-election funds! remember John Corzine facing prosecution for 5 billion that he claimed just disappeared! 

Obama's performance Kosher and you spew the same lies I hear from Maui too, is that a coincidence? No! 

Worst economic recovery since 1949! 

Worst Labor participation rate since 1978

Only US president to accomplish negative GDP in 3 fiscal periods

Never achieved 3% GDP only president to never reach that level

Added 13 million more welfare recipients

Added 8 million more unemployment claims

Average GDP over 8 years 1.8% when he announced the new norm would be 1.5%

These are the results of your Obama Kosher and once again you are full of shit!

Comment by Doc Vega on May 23, 2019 at 3:36am

Rodney, wake up and use your oxygen mask! 

Based on his performance alone President Trump has far exceeded the pathetic efforts of President Obama! Is this what you liberal Democrats hang your hat on? Shitty economic performance, being an apologist for Islam in the aftermath of acts of terrorism like Gays gunned down by a Muslim extremist in Florida? Low job employment numbers, low economic output, poor international trade deficits! Is this what you call the will of the people Rodney? Take another hit of oxygen Rodney you're not thinking straight! THIRD WORLD SHIT HOLE? Let's see what happened in Minnesota and Detroit! Hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees paid with taxpayer dollars to live here who are establishing No GO Zones while local authorities are hiding brutal crimes being committed by Muslim men beating and raping women and exercising violence and legal action against Christians for simply handing out flyers! Yeah Rodney seems pretty third world shit hole actions to me! Take another swig of oxygen Rodney! 

Comment by Doc Vega on May 23, 2019 at 3:40am

Ron, 700 prosecutors? In view of the kind of counter intelligence we get that is called actual news turns out to be a lie more often than not! If this is true they are obviously Democrats and Obama appointees and how many prosecutors said they easily could have proved intent by Hillary when Comey claimed he couldn't! 

How do you prove obstruction Ron when President Trump was exonerated by Mueller? Once again Ron do we now have thought police? better guard your thoughts Ron!


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