Trump's loyalty obsession could lead to a case of obstruction

In an interview with CNN, former FBI Acting Director, Andrew McCabe – who played a pivotal role in opening an investigation for Trump's obstruction – has convincingly stated that he had been fired a few hours before his planned retirement as a result of a rigged internal investigation. against him at the instigation of the president.

The revelations appear to be part of a consistent pattern of Trump's attempts to influence investigations in which he might be involved and in a constant campaign of public and private pressure on the officials involved.

They again pose the mysterious question of why, if the president insists that there was no coordination between his 2016 campaign and the plot of Russian electoral interference, did he bother to undermine the investigations on what he termed a huge "hoax"?

The New York Times reported that Trump had called acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker at the end of last year to ask him if it was possible that the US District Attorney of New York South District, rejected, can nevertheless take over.

Trump denied the report by telling reporters, "I do not know who gave you that."
NYT: Trump asked Whitaker if he could appoint a prosecutor to investigate Cohen

Even in his public remarks, the President often left the impression that senior law enforcement officials had a duty to protect him – as a personal lawyer – rather than the neutral administration of justice and the Constitution.

The dismissed FBI director, James Comey, said Trump had tried to establish a relationship of favoritism with him. Trump has also repeatedly criticized his former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for his failure to control the investigation conducted in Russia.

Trump mounted almost daily attacks against Special Investigator Robert Mueller's investigation and other investigations targeting his administration.

In the worst case, its incessant private, public, and political efforts to influence investigations could be an obstacle to justice – and even an integral part of any future article of dismissal.

Brooke Baldwin of CNN asked if Trump's request to Whitaker amounted to an obstruction, Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor, replied, "What could it be other?"

"What other reason could the president have for calling Matt Whitaker to the right as the Cohen investigation grew and began to threaten him … and asking Whitaker:" Can we have my guy? ", Did he declare.

Paul Rosenzweig, senior counsel for the Whitewater Inquiry, told Baldwin that, if confirmed, reporting on Trump could constitute a possible abuse of power.

"It's really hard to come up with an innocent explanation for asking someone to indulge in a disqualification that seems entirely appropriate," he said. "It is a little early to say for sure what the facts are since Mr. Whitaker has somehow denied that assertion – but if the facts prove what they are, it may be impenetrable."

"No obstruction"

Trump's lawyers argued that his dismissal from Comey and his attempts to intervene in staffing decisions of the Department of Justice were consistent with his titular authority as a senior official in the implementation of the country law.

In a confidential letter sent to Mueller last year, Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow, and his then colleague, John Dowd, asserted that "no president has ever been elected." has never been charged with obstruction for simply exercising his constitutional authority ".

They said that a president can "order the closure" of an investigation by the Department of Justice or the FBI "at any time and for any reason whatsoever".

But many legal experts believe that if Mueller established an intent to bribe, normal norm for a charge of obstruction in a criminal case, it could be a behavior that could be taken in the context policy of a dismissal case.

Trump's assertion in an interview with NBC News that he would have fired Comey because of the investigation conducted in Russia could constitute evidence of this finding in any final report that the special advocate ruled to depose.

There is a historical precedent for a presidency threatened by an existential danger after an attempt to interfere in the investigation process.

The acts of impeachment drafted against Richard Nixon accused the former disgraced president of "interfering or attempting to interfere in the conduct of investigations conducted by the Department of Justice. United States Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation … and congressional committees ".
The New York Times reported that Whitaker knew he could not ask Berman to recuse himself and that Trump complained that he was appointed acting while he was not there. could not make the president's legal problems disappear.
The Cohen case turned out to be particularly embarrassing for Trump as she paved the way for prosecutors in her private and professional affairs. In a plea of ​​guilty, his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, said Trump had ordered him to pay compensation to two women who claimed to have dealings with him – making the president a co-conspirator not charged in violation of the law. the financing of the campaign.

Silent consent circle

McCabe told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night promoting his new book that Trump posed a threat to the FBI and the nation and that it was "possible" for the president to be a Russian asset.

He renewed his accusation of being fired because he had discharged his task by launching an investigation into Trump's behavior.

The White House argues that McCabe has no credibility because he is currently under criminal investigation for allegedly misleading the investigators in their investigation of the FBI's handling of the Clinton Foundation investigation.

But he suggested that an independent ministerial report used as justification for his dismissal had been unduly influenced by Trump.

"The president has very publicly asked for a result and the office of the inspector general gave this result … the president wished me to leave before I could be eligible for retirement."

Kellyanne Conway, a White House advisor, said on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time" show that McCabe was "a liar and a liberator".

Trump's alleged propensity to rely on his key law enforcement collaborators emerged during breathtaking public testimonials, contemporary memos, and autobiographical writings by Comey.

At the beginning of his presidency, Trump told the FBI director at the time, according to a leaked memo, that he "needed loyalty and expected loyalty."
Comey wrote in his book "High Loyalty" that the president's sequel reminded him of the "silent circle of assent" around the pillars of the mafia that he had pursued.

"The boss has total control, the oaths of loyalty, the worldview that opposes us, the lie about everything, big or small, at the service of a code of loyalty that places the organization above of morality and truth, "wrote Comey. .

Trump was clearly waiting for Comey not to receive the kind of protection that he had received from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and never forgive him for recusing himself because of the fact. Mueller's investigation of Russia.

"The Russian witch hunt continues, because Jeff Sessions did not say that he was going to recuse himself," Trump tweeted June 5 last year, four months before the Attorney General finally resigned.

"I would have quickly chosen somebody else – so much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined … and Sessions knew better than anyone else that it was n & # 39; There was no collusion! " Trump added.

The President has also repeatedly asked find out why sessions Had not pursued the "corruption" of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton – in a scary call for a politically motivated investigation against a political opponent.

The president hinted that he was convinced that the Attorney General should play the role of personal bodyguard when he expressed his opinion on the Attorney General of the former Obama administration, Eric Holder.

"I will say this: the President has been protected by President Obama.He has totally protected him," Trump said in an interview with the New York Times in December 2017.
It is unclear what Whitaker could have said to the President in private conversations after reading the Mueller case investigation. At a hearing before a House committee this month, he insisted that he had "not been ingested in any way in the investigation of the special advocate ".

However, his reluctance to entrust Berman with responsibility for the Cohen investigation suggests that the legal structures within the Justice Department are strong, despite Trump's relentless pressure.

There was also no sign that Berman would have agreed to take such a step.

Preet Bharara, a former US district attorney in the southern New York District, was fired by Trump, but only after the president called him, what the CNN commentator now sees as an attempt to cultivate a relationship.

"It's a kind of person who does not understand that the rules must work in a particular way and that there must be a regular order, whether it is a challenge or a distance of dependency between a lawyer. or an investigator from the United States and the President of the United States. "Tuesday, Bharara told CNN's Jake Tapper.

Evan Perez and Laura Jarrett of CNN contributed to this report.

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