A bombshell report from Tuesday said that President Donald Trump looked into prosecuting his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey, only to be talked out of it by White House counsel Don McGahn. The report said that McGahn warned Trump that such a move could lead to his impeachment, but according to former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi, even suggesting it is enough for Trump to face criminal charges.
“Let me tell you this, I could draft an indictment against the president of the United States on two counts,” Rossi told MSNBC’s Ari Melber on Tuesday. “One would be his relationship with Michael Cohen on the election fraud, and number two, I could draft a scheme in an attempt to obstruct justice against the president right now and Robert Mueller has the jurisdiction and the authority –unless Matt Whitaker puts a quench over it– he as the authority to go into that because it’s the heart and soul and the gestalt of what Robert Mueller’s looking at.”
Specifically targeting Comey, Rossi said, even though he ultimately did not order prosecution, was part of a pattern of behavior that shows an attempt to obstruct justice. Among that pattern was Trump’s firing of Comey, who was leading the Russia investigation at the time. Attempts to obstruct justice are covered by federal law as well as acts that actually impede investigations.
“You clearly have a pattern and a scheme against the investigation that clearly falls within the obstruction statutes. And what he did with the attorney McGahn, that is an attempt to obstruct justice.” The implication here is that Trump actively tried to do something that would obstruct justice, but McGahn prevented it by talking him out of it.
Any attempt to prosecute Comey or Clinton could also be considered an “abuse of power” should Trump ever be impeached, as national security lawyer Brad Moss told Law&Crime.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller may have already known about the details of this conversation between McGahn and Trump, as McGahn has already cooperated extensively with Mueller’s investigation. Rossi stated that Trump would not even be able to use claim privilege to protect his communications with the White House counsel, because of the exception for communications having to do with the commission of a crime or fraud.
“The President of the United States is essentially asking McGahn to commit a crime by obstructing justice, so that’s what I would charge,” Rossi said.
[Image via MSNBC screengrab]