Wednesday, June 14, 2017

NEWS BREAK: Trump now under criminal investigation for obstruction of justice

The Washington Post broke the story late Wednesday that President Donald Trump is now under criminal investigation for obstruction of justice.   The story has five sources and is not denied by Trump's lawyer, who focused his outrage on the leaks.

Of course, we should remember that being investigated does not automatically mean that the person is guilty.   But this is such a serious charge against a sitting president, that someone as experienced as Robert Mueller is unlikely to do so without solid reason to think he could back it up.   Most legal scholars, including Laurence Tribe, say that there is a good case for obstruction, although one notable dissenter is Alan Dershowitz.  Both are distinguished Harvard Law professors, although Dershowitz tends to be a bit more iconoclastic and bombastic.

Those known to have agreed to be interviewed as witnesses, concerning Trump's approach to them to assist in quashing the investigation, are:   Dan Coates, Director of National Intelligence and Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency.  In addition, Rogers' deputy at the time, Richard Ledgett, who apparently had knowledge at the time of the conversation between the president and Rogers, is also a potential witness.  And of course we've already heard James Comey's testimony before the Senate.

This is potentially very explosive and comes much sooner than I was expecting.  We know that Trump is said to have been considering firing Mueller.  But he cannot do it himself.  It would have to be the Attorney General;  and, since Sessions is recused from this case, it would be Deputy AG  Rod Rosenstein -- who said in his testimony to the Senate Intel Committee on Monday that he would not fire Mueller without good cause.   So Trump would have to fire Rosenstein and replace him with someone who would.   Shades of Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre."  Beyond that, it would be political suicide for him to take that course.

Stay tuned.


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