Twenty-four days ago, hundreds of former federal prosecutors who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations signed their names on a letter asserting that if Donald Trump wasn’t the President of the United States he would been charged for obstruction of justice. The list of hundreds has since grown to more than a 1,000.
Trump nemesis, actor Robert De Niro, headlined a new NowThis video featuring some of the former federal prosecutors who endorsed the letter (Renato Mariotti, Elie Honig, Jennifer Rodgers, Mimi Rocah, Roland Ripoelle, and Jacob Buchdahl, to name a few. In it, they re-read the substance of the letter and its conclusions. The video is released the day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller did something similar. Mueller made a rare public statement for the purpose of saying out loud what he had already written in his publicly available report. Among the things Mueller said was that charging the president was never an option because of DOJ policy against indicting a sitting president.
Mueller said that a sealed or unsealed charging document would have been unconstitutional. Instead, the constitutional remedy is impeachment.
But the former federal prosecutors we’ve mentioned read Mueller’s reasoning on this well before he repeated it publicly; they concluded before 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.”
The prosecutors said that documented efforts to fire Mueller and “falsify evidence about that effort,” efforts to limit the scope of the investigation, and witness tampering were sufficient evidence of corrupt intent.
“Firing Mueller would have seriously impeded the investigation of the President and his associates — obstruction in its most literal sense. Directing the creation of false government records in order to prevent or discredit truthful testimony is similarly unlawful,” they said.
They also mentioned Trump’s conduct regarding Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort over the course of the investigation (pardon dangling, tweets, private messages, etc.).
“Of course, these aren’t the only acts of potential obstruction detailed by the Special Counsel. It would be well within the purview of normal prosecutorial judgment also to charge other acts detailed in the report,” they concluded. “We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment. Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. In our system, every accused person is presumed innocent and it is always the government’s burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, 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.”
[Image via NowThis screengrab]
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