History, Precedent and Comey Statement Show that Trump Did Not Obstruct Justice
Friday, June 09, 2017
The statement may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, but unless they are willing to stretch James Comey's words and take Trump's out of context, and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguards in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.
The first casualty of partisan efforts to "get" a political opponent — whether Republicans going after Clinton or Democrats going after Trump — is often civil liberties. All Americans who care about the Constitution and civil liberties must join together to protest efforts to expand existing criminal law to get political opponents.
Today it is Trump. Yesterday it was Clinton. Tomorrow it could be you.
In 1992, then-President George H.W. Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger
and five other individuals who had been indicted or convicted in
connection with the Iran-Contra arms deal. The special prosecutor,
Lawrence Walsh, was furious, accusing Bush of stifling his ongoing
investigation and suggesting that he may have done it to prevent
Weinberger or the others from pointing the finger of blame at Bush
himself. The New York Times also reported that the investigation might have pointed to Bush himself. This is what Walsh said:
"The Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more
than six years, has now been completed with the pardon of Caspar
Weinberger. We will make a full report on our findings to Congress and
the public describing the details and extent of this cover-up."
Yet President Bush was neither charged with obstruction of justice
nor impeached. Nor have other presidents who interfered with ongoing
investigations or prosecutions been charged with obstruction. It is true that among the impeachment charges levelled against
President Nixon was one for obstructing justice, but Nixon committed the
independent crime of instructing his aides to lie to the FBI, which is a
violation of section 1001 of the federal criminal code.
It is against the background of this history and precedent that the
statement of former FBI Director James must be considered. Comey himself
acknowledged that :