A former senior counsel to Ken Starr, the Whitewater investigation’s independent counsel who recommended Bill Clinton‘s impeachment, says that Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s details about President Donald Trump‘s attempts to obstruct justice were “blunter by a thousandfold” than anything Clinton did.
In Rosenzweig’s opinion, the details in the Mueller report are “ample reason” for House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry “right now.”
Mueller discussed a number of obstruction-related incidents at length, including but not limited to: Trump asking then-FBI Director James Comey to take investigative heat off of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (who later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI); subsequent attempts to remove the Special Counsel; “order[ing] aides to lie” about such attempts; other attempts to curtail or influence the investigation; attempts to have then-attorney General Jeff Sessions unrecuse himself and run the Russia probe.
Here’s a brief portion of what Mueller himself had to say in the report about these incidents:
The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests. [James] Comey did not end the investigation of [Michael] Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. [Don] McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the Special Counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order. [Corey] Lewandowski and [Rick] Dearborn did not deliver the President’s message to [Jeff] Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to accede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the Special Counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so.
Rosenzweig suggested that you don’t even need to consider the above-described facts to make a strong argument for impeachment.
“My view is that there’s ample reason right now for the House Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment inquiry … and if it were up to me, I would recommend them to impeach,” he said. “I mean, if I were called to testify today at the first of those hearings, I would say that Trump’s obstruction of justice and frankly, more importantly, Trump’s dereliction of duty in failing to address the issue of Russian interference in our electoral processes, are by themselves grounds for his impeachment.”
“Add to that, his recalcitrance in responding to [special counsel Robert] Mueller and his stonewalling of congressional investigations and the case becomes … much more compelling than that which attended the [impeachment] recommendation with respect to Clinton,” he said.
Interestingly, it was noted that Ken Starr himself is not among the “significant number” of Rosenzweig’s former independent counsel co-workers who apparently believe Trump’s actions were “worse” than Clinton’s.
That Rosenzweig feels this way is no great surprise.
He is a member of the the Checks and Balances group co-founded by frequent Trump critic George Conway, the attorney husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. Rosenzweig was one of 11 conservative and libertarian lawyers who recently signed onto a statement that concluded the “framers of the Constitution” would say Mueller presented evidence of impeachable offenses.
“The facts contained in the report reveal that the President engaged in persistent conduct intended to derail, undermine and obstruct ongoing federal investigations,” they said. “In light of the longstanding Department of Justice legal opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted, we view it as irrelevant whether there is a prosecutorial recommendation that the crime of obstruction has been committed.”
[Image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images]
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