The aftershock of The New York Times report on a memo written by former FBI Director James Comey regarding President Donald Trump asking him to stop investigating Michael Flynn has come with seemingly endless cries of obstruction of justice. Politicians, average citizens, and the media (including LawNewz.com) have argued that the “Comey Memo,” as it’s being called, is solid evidence that the President committed an impeachable offense. Nevertheless, it may not be so simple after all, at least according Georgetown Law Professor Jonathan Turley.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Turley addressed the possibility of an obstruction charge against Trump. While not dismissing the possibility outright, Turley said, “I don’t think this makes out an obstruction case.” He elaborated by saying that there was no official judicial or congressional proceeding at the time, and that the allegations made out in the Times report don’t make out that Trump acted corruptly, which is required to meet the statutory definition of obstruction of justice.
“Does this mean that this cant’ be obstruction? Of course not. It can be evidence of obstruction, but we’re not there yet.”
Turley acknowledged that Trump asking Comey to cease the Flynn investigation, if true, is “wildly inappropriate,” and can be the basis of an investigation of the President or an obstruction case, but on its own, it’s insufficient.
In a piece for The Hill, Turley further described his position. He said that the term “corruptly,” as used in the statutory language for obstruction of justice, means “with the intent to secure an unlawful benefit for oneself or another.” In theory, he wrote, Trump could claim that in his conversation with Comey, he was just looking out for an associate. While concerning, Turley says the limited details we know so far are “not proof of an impeachable offense.”
[Image via MSNBC screengrab]