Former Watergate Counsel Sees a Case Made for Obstruction of Justice

The reactions to James Comey’s written testimony, which was released on Wednesday, is a sight to behold.

I’m assuming everyone saw the same release, but depending on where your loyalties lie, it’s as if they were seeing completely different things.

For loyalists, they’re crowing over Comey saying in the testimony that he told Trump he wasn’t under investigation.

I’m so happy for you guys, except nobody but you thought Trump was under investigation.

Members of his team are under investigation, but Trump, himself, is only a secondary player to the main event, there.

Others saw a very clear case of a U.S. president trying to use his office to influence the direction of a federal investigation.

But is it obstruction? Does it rise to the level of a criminal offense, or is it simply a case of a bumbling, arrogant, political neophyte stepping in it, bigly?

We may have a way to go before we come to any solid conclusions, yet, and Comey’s testimony this morning may be the start, but some experienced voices are already chiming in.

A former counsel to the Watergate prosecutors feels there is sufficient evidence to pursue a charge of obstruction against President Trump.

“In prepared testimony released on the eve of his appearance Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James B. Comey placed President Trump in the gunsights of a federal criminal investigation, laying out evidence sufficient for a case of obstruction of justice,” Philip Allen Lacovara — who served as counsel to Watergate special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski — wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post.

Lacovara wrote that the former FBI director shows that Trump had “specifically attempted to shut off at least one major piece of what Trump calls the ‘Russia thing,’ the investigation into the misleading statements by fired national security adviser Michael Flynn concerning his role in dealings with the Russians.”

“This kind of presidential intervention in a pending criminal investigation has not been seen, to my knowledge, since the days of Richard Nixon and Watergate,” Lacovara wrote.

Interesting.

Trump indeed hoped to turn Comey away from the investigation surrounding Michael Flynn, and in recent weeks, there was speculation that after this investigation was out of the way, the president hoped to bring Flynn back in as national security adviser.

“The obstruction of justice statute prohibits not only successful interference with pending criminal investigations but also any use of ‘threats’ to ‘endeavor’ to obstruct an investigation,” Lacovara wrote.

He wrote that Comey’s testimony “lays out a case against the president that consists of a tidy pattern, beginning with the demand for loyalty, the threat to terminate Comey’s job, the repeated requests to turn off the investigation into Flynn and the final infliction of career punishment for failing to succumb to the president’s requests, all followed by the president’s own concession about his motive.”

“Any experienced prosecutor would see these facts as establishing a prima facie case of obstruction of justice,” he wrote.

I’ve already seen Trump’s fans say he meant loyalty to the U.S., which is rather insane, and a desperate stretch, at best.

Just by virtue of being made director of the FBI, Comey took an oath to serve the United States.

“The ball now is in Mueller’s court to decide whether he has (or will have) enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction,” he wrote, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller.

“And, if so, whether to reach the same conclusion that I reached in the Nixon investigation — that, like everyone else in our system, a president is accountable for committing a federal crime.”

He should be, and if the evidence supports the definition of obstruction, then let justice be done.