Last week, the Special Counsel’s office Mueller accuses Paul Manafort of witness tampering:
Federal prosecutors accused former Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort of witness tampering in a pleading filed late Monday in his criminal case and asked a federal judge to consider revoking or revising his pretrial release. [Manafort is subject to home confinement, and is wearing two ankle bracelet court monitors.]
Prosecutors accused Manafort and a longtime associate they linked to Russian intelligence of repeatedly contacting two members of a public relations firm and asking them to falsely testify about secret lobbying they did at Manafort’s behest.
The firm of former senior European officials, informally called the “Hapsburg group,” was secretly retained in 2012 by Manafort to advocate for Ukraine, where Manafort had clients, prosecutors charged.
In court documents, prosecutors with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III allege that Manafort and his associate — referred to only as Person A — tried to contact the two witnesses by phone and through encrypted messaging apps. The description of Person A matches his longtime business colleague in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Campaigns, Corruption, Courts, Crime, Elections, International, Justice, Law Enforcement, President, Russian Affair, Scandals
Tagged conspiracy, obstruction of justice, Special Counsel, suborning perjury, witness intimidation
I covered this topic in an earlier post, The GOP war on law enforcement and the rule of law to obstruct justice.
Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post adds, Republicans risk becoming accomplices in obstruction of justice (excerpt):
Republicans in Congress have shown none of the courage Comey, Wray, McGahn, etc., demonstrated. With the exception of chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Republicans have demonstrated little inclination to dig deeply into the scandal or to restrain Trump. Two bipartisan bills seeking to hinder Trump from firing Mueller remain dormant. Democrats should insist these get an up-or-down vote.
Moreover, the antics of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) should be seen in the context of Trump’s multiple efforts to decapitate the FBI and the Russia investigation. Nunes is plowing the way — cooking up conspiracy theories and propounding baseless allegations against Mueller and the FBI — to predispose the public to accept Mueller’s firing. He is encouraging, almost baiting, Trump to fire Mueller. He is also assisting Trump by tainting the jury (the American people), if you will, to accept or even applaud Mueller’s firing. From the unmasking stunt to his latest “memo,” he has tried to distract from the Russian threat and discredit law enforcement.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Congress, Corruption, Crime, Ethics, GOP War On..., Justice, Law Enforcement, Party Politics, President, Scandals
Tagged accesories, Attorney General, conspiracy, Department of Justice, FBI, obstruction of justice, Special Counsel, witness intimidation
> Steve Vladeck, professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, co-editor-in-chief of Just Security and co-host of the National Security Law Podcast: “A few hours after former FBI director James B. Comey finished testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, President Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, suggested that Comey had violated the law. By causing memos about conversations between Trump and Comey to become public, Comey had committed an “unauthorized disclosure of privileged information,” Kasowitz claimed.” Trump’s lawyer says Comey violated executive privilege. He’s wrong. “On a day characterized by hubris remarkable even for Washington, the blatant wrongheadedness of this “privilege” claim still stands out. In fact, executive privilege almost certainly does not cover the Comey memo. And even if it did, disclosing it without authorization isn’t illegal.”
> Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post: Comey’s sharing of notes about Trump doesn’t make him a criminal, analysts say: Prosecutors who bring charges against people for sharing information with the public can do so only when classified or other national security material is at issue. Material cannot be classified to conceal legal violations or prevent embarrassment, according to an executive order from President Barack Obama. Telling a reporter nonclassified information of public interest is not only legal, but it’s often the right thing to do.
> Phillip Bump, Washington Post:There’s no indication Comey violated the law. Trump may be about to. By threatening James Comey, Trump’s lawyer may be violating whistleblower retaliation rules.
> Norman Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer for President Barack Obama, and a co-founder and the chairman of CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; and Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW and a former federal corruption prosecutor. Comey’s Case for Obstruction of Justice: “Mr. Comey’s sworn statement and answers before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee now provide strong evidence that President Trump committed obstruction of justice.” “But strong initial evidence is not the same as a slam-dunk case, and Mr. Comey’s testimony also made clear how far we have to go before the question is definitively resolved.”
> Phillip Allen Locavara, served as counsel to Watergate special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski: I helped prosecute Watergate. Comey’s statement is sufficient evidence for an obstruction of justice case. “Comey’s statement lays out a case against the president that consists of a tidy pattern, beginning with the demand for loyalty, the threat to terminate Comey’s job, the repeated requests to turn off the investigation into Flynn and the final infliction of career punishment for failing to succumb to the president’s requests, all followed by the president’s own concession about his motive. Any experienced prosecutor would see these facts as establishing a prima facie case of obstruction of justice.”
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Campaigns, Constitution, Corruption, Courts, Crime, Election Integrity, Elections, Ethics, GOP War On..., International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Party Politics, President, Scandals, War
Tagged Department of Justice, FBI, Foreign Policy, National Security, obstruction of justice, witness intimidation
Last Friday Donald Trump’s Tweet alleged secretly recorded “tapes” of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey.
Tuesday night we learned that James Comey can say “I’ll see your alleged tape recordings, and raise you the contemporaneous memorandums of conversations that I maintain to cover my ass. And I want to testify in both public and private hearings before Congress.”
If Trump was bluffing about his “tapes,” now’s the time for him to fold. He’s about to lose this hand “bigly.”
The New York Times reported, Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation:
President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.
This is the basis for an obstruction of justice charge.
Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Congress, Corruption, Crime, Ethics, Justice, Law Enforcement, Party Politics, President, Scandals
Tagged Impeachment, obstruction of justice, witness intimidation
I am still on vacation visiting relatives during what has been a busy news week.
The most important developments from last week were the New York Times report on Donald Trump’s insistence of personal loyalty from FBI Director James Comey, as if he is a mafia Godfather insisting on the code of omertà; Trump’s interview with Lester Holt of NBC in which he essentially made a public admission of obstruction of justice; and Trump’s threatening Tweet to fired FBI director James Comey about “tapes” of their alleged conversations.
Trump cannot control his own destructive impulses from acting out on intimidation of witnesses and obstruction of justice — Count One of the Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon.
Here is a good summary from New York Magazine. Trump Asked Comey for Loyalty a Day After He Was Warned About Flynn:
Unsatisfied with his press office’s handling of the fallout from the firing of FBI Director James Comey, on Thursday night President Trump took matters into his own hands — and made things much, much worse.
Though their story kept shifting, for days White House officials stuck to their claim that Comey was fired because the president and top Justice Department officials felt he was doing a bad job, not because of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible Russia ties.
Then in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump proclaimed that he had actually decided to fire Comey regardless of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended — and the Russia probe was on his mind.
“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said [self], ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,’” the president said.
Trump speaking about himself in the third person is your first clue that this Dude is bonkers.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Election Integrity, Ethics, International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Party Politics, President, Scandals
Tagged Impeachment, obstruction of justice, witness intimidation