I’ll see your “Coverup-General Barr” who spun the Mueller Report to say that there are no chargeable crimes against Donald Trump, and raise you more than 400 former federal prosecutors (and growing) who say Trump’s “fixer” at the Department of Justice is full of shit and that they find chargeable crimes.
Tierney Sneed reports, 400 Ex-Prosecutors: DOJ Could Charge Trump With Obstruction If He Wasn’t POTUS:
[More than] four hundred former federal prosecutors [and counting] have put their thumb on the scale in favor of President Trump’s obstruction conduct being criminal.
Based on the conduct outlined by special counsel Robert Mueller, the Justice Department would have been able to indict Trump, had he not been a sitting president, they said in a statement Monday. [See for a running total of signatories to the statement – 479 at time of post.]
Their assessment contradicts that of Attorney General Bill Barr, who claimed that the evidence Mueller produced was not “sufficient” to bring charges — a conclusion that Barr said stood separate from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel memo barring the indictment of sitting presidents.
“[T]o 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,” the ex-prosecutors’ statement said.
“As former federal prosecutors, we recognize that prosecuting obstruction of justice cases is critical because unchecked obstruction — which allows intentional interference with criminal investigations to go unpunished — puts our whole system of justice at risk,” the statement continued. “We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report.”
The letter, which was first reported by the Washington Post, included signatures from a number of former DOJ prosecutors from administrations of both parties. Several former U.S. attorneys also signed the letter, as did former officials who had held top posts at main Justice. Alumni of the Watergate investigation also signed the letter.
The organization Protect Democracy helped organize the letter — a Protect Democracy representative said that some of the former prosecutors had approached the organization about assembling the letter.
The names on the statement encompassed a wide range of the legal community who have served for both Republican and Democratic administrations, showing the bipartisan recognition of Trump’s crimes. And as reporters Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times and Rebecca Ballhaus of the Wall Street Journal noted, there were several particularly interesting names on the list.
These names include:
1. Donald Ayer
Ayer was former deputy attorney general, appointed by former President George H.W. Bush in 1989. The number of Republican appointees signing on to the statement is notable, as it shows this is not a mere partisan attack on a GOP president. But Ayer is also significant because of his successor as deputy attorney general. One Bill Barr replaced Ayer when he vacated the role, only to later be elevated to the position of attorney general by Bush Sr. for the first time. Trump made him attorney general again this year, in an apparently deliberate and successful effort to find someone who would shield him from Mueller’s damning findings.
2. John Martin Sr.
Martin is a former U.S. attorney and then federal judge for the Southern District of New York. He was appointed as a federal judge by the first President Bush.
3. Elkan Abramowitz
Abramovitz, noted Ballhaus, was once the chief of the criminal division in federal prosecutors office in the Southern District of New York. But even more interesting is what he’s doing now. Abramovitz represents David Pecker, the head of American Media Inc., who is a key witness in the criminal hush money payments made for the Trump campaign in 2016 for which Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty. In Cohen’s allocution in the case, he said he carried out these criminal payments in coordination with and at the direction of Trump. It’s notable, then, that someone so deeply involved in that case is calling Trump out for another set of crimes.
4. Paul Rosenzweig
A prominent conservative legal scholar, Rosenzweig is also notable for having served as senior counsel to Ken Starr during Whitewater and the resulting investigations. Starr, who famously pursued President Bill Clinton doggedly and pushed for impeachment, now says Trump shouldn’t be impeached because it was bad for the country. But Rosenzweig disagrees.
5. Jeffrey Harris
Harris worked under Rudy Giuliani, who now represents Trump, when he was associate attorney general in President Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department. In his outlandish and often damaging defenses of the president, Giuliani has frequently and hypocritically railed against tactics he used as a prosecutor, even while facing off against the much more considered and reasonable Mueller. The fact that one of Giuliani’s former subordinates now publicly contests his main defense of the president only underscores the complete and shameful about-face he’s undergone since taking on Trump’s case.
These are felony crimes which would have been charged but for the OLC memo, just as “Individual-1,” the unindicted co-conspirator “who is Donald J. Trump” in Michael Cohen’s prosecution for campaign finance law violations, would have been charged but for the OLC memo. How many crimes does it take for an impeachment?
Then there are impeachable offenses which are not felony crimes. James Reston, the author of “The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews,” explains Trump’s Other Impeachable Offense:
On July 30, 1974, nine days before President Richard Nixon resigned, the House Judiciary Committee added a third article to its impeachment charges against the president. The first two had dealt with obstruction of justice and abuse of power; Article III charged that Nixon had failed to comply with eight congressional subpoenas related to the Watergate investigation.
Now, with President Trump and William Barr, his attorney general, refusing to cooperate with congressional investigations, the Democrats in the House should take yet another lesson from Watergate. They are reportedly already preparing impeachment articles on obstruction of justice; they should add failure to comply with Congress to the list.
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[T]he impeachment committee approved Article III. It charged that the president “has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee.” Instead, it read, Nixon had substituted his own views as to what materials were necessary for the committee to render its judgment, and had interposed the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives. His refusal to comply interfered with the committee’s ability to fulfill its constitutional duties and was, therefore, subversive of constitutional government.
President Trump has taken a similar approach to Nixon’s, declaring that the Mueller report should mean the end of any related congressional investigations, and that he would defy any subpoena that came from them. In response, congressional leaders have said they would take the matter to court.
That’s a good thing to do — to have the courts reaffirm what is already clear in the law — and Congress will probably win. But a court case could take months to conclude, playing into the president’s apparent strategy of running out the clock.
Yet Mr. Trump’s defiance can, in and of itself, form the basis for an additional impeachment article — a fact that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, recognized on Thursday. “Ignoring subpoenas of Congress, not honoring subpoenas of Congress — that was Article III of the Nixon impeachment,” she said.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post goes back to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson to argue Trump’s ‘scandalous harangues’ are an impeachable offense:
[W]e don’t have to wonder. A president already has been impeached for something similar.
In 1868, the House impeached President Andrew Johnson because of his firing of Edwin Stanton as secretary of war and, at root, Johnson’s thwartingof Reconstruction. But Article X against Johnson (the Senate eventually acquitted him of all charges) seems written for the current moment:
Johnson, “unmindful of the high duties of his high office and the dignity and proprieties thereof,” it said, sought “to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States.” On several occasions, it added, Johnson declared “with a loud voice certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and did therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces” against Congress and U.S. laws “amid the cries, jeers and laughter of the multitudes then assembled.”
The article concluded that “said utterances, declarations, threats, and harangues . . . are peculiarly indecent and unbecoming in the Chief Magistrate of the United States,” and have brought the presidency “into contempt, ridicule, and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens.” Johnson was therefore guilty of a “high misdemeanor in office.”
Loud threats and bitter menaces in front of jeering crowds? Intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues?
This sort of “misdemeanor” — in the original meaning of misbehavior, not the modern sense of a minor crime — defines Trump’s presidency.
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But though Mueller didn’t allege that Trump committed a crime, he detailed at great length the style of “misdemeanor” described in Andrew Johnson’s impeachment.
When the framers used the phrase “crimes and misdemeanors,” borrowed from English law, they weren’t using misdemeanors in the sense of trespassing, or other crimes below felonies. They were talking about bad behavior; impeachment, James Madison wrote, was protection against a president’s “incapacity, negligence, or perfidy.”
The framers assumed a president would be upstanding. Federalist Paper No. 68 says future presidents would likely be “characters preeminent for ability and virtue,” reasoning that the electoral process would eliminate those who had only “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity.”
Alexander Hamilton never met Donald Trump.
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Set aside for now questions of obstruction of justice and election help from Russia. The calumny and slander Trump is directing at Mueller, one of the best in American public life, is the very definition of misdemeanor.
Just Trump’s Twitter account alone is enough to impeach him.