Joseph Keeble: A clear lack of moral leadership
If Trump wasn’t president he would be faced with multiple felony charges including obstruction of justice.
That is the conclusion of over 560 former federal prosecutors both Republicans and Democrats, so far, who have signed a petition that was posted online recently by the Department of Justice alumni.
Under Federal law a person is guilty of obstruction of justice if they corruptly:
(1) “alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding,” or
(2) “otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.”
The petition states, “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 … 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.” The petition goes on to say, “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 …”
This seems to put into question Attorney General Barr’s statement that, “The report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct.” In June 2018, as perhaps a job application, Barr submitted an unsolicited 19-page memo to the Justice Department calling the Mueller investigation “fatally misconceived.” The memo argued that if Congress made it a crime for the president “corruptly” to obstruct, impede, or influence an investigation even into the president’s own crimes, it would intrude on the president’s constitutional authority. In other words, a President, according to Barr, is above the law and cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice in the attempt to hide information or halt an investigation.
The firing of James Comey as FBI chief was the spark that ignited the Mueller investigation and Barr stated in the memo that he did not think that Comey’s firing should be construed as obstruction. According to legal experts, under Barr’s interpretation then, a president could fire anyone and everyone in the Justice Department who insisted on investigating serious allegations of criminal activity by him/herself until only those who agreed not to investigate were left; and all this with impunity.
So Barr writes the memo in June 2018 that somehow reaches Trump. In November, Trump fires Jeff Sessions, after refusing to un-recuse himself, for not going along with the program. Trump conveniently names Barr as his replacement. The Senate approves him mostly along party lines (three Democrats and one Republican crossed over to the other side) with the “yes” votes representing 48% of voting age Americans.
The Mueller Report wraps up and goes to Barr. Barr releases a four-page summary exonerating Trump of any wrong doing. Mueller says the summary is misleading the public. The redacted report comes out. Congress wants the whole thing; team Trump refuses.
Barr admits to a Senate committee that his summary was based on a review of the conclusions and that he did so without reviewing the underlying evidence. Apart from Barr’s carefully scripted false characterization of the Mueller Report, the general consensus is crimes were omitted.
The American people have a right to know just what is going on. It is the constitutional duty of Congress to act as a check on executive abuse. Congress is attempting to exercise that duty. The executive branch is refusing to comply with those requests, whether it is for the un-redacted Mueller report, tax returns or even allowing individuals to testify.
That laws are/were broken is now obvious. It’s not fake news from the enemy of the people. It’s not a deep state coup. It is a hunt for the truth.
Why is Trump challenging Congress’ constitutional authority? If there is nothing to hide then why is the White House stonewalling?
What does this have to say about the moral leadership, or lack thereof, of our country?
Joseph Keeble lives in Nevada City.
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