Just the news, folks. Just the news.
And what great news it is.
Over 400 signatories.
Former prosecutors have their say.
The verdict is IN -
STATEMENT BY FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTORS
DOJ Alumni StatementFollow
We are former federal prosecutors. We served under both Republican and Democratic administrations at different levels of the federal system:
as line attorneys, supervisors, special prosecutors, United States
Attorneys, and senior officials at the Department of Justice. The
offices in which we served were small, medium, and large; urban,
suburban, and rural; and located in all parts of our country.
Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against
indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.
The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the
elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or
attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the
evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. These include:
· The President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence
about that effort;
· The President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation
to exclude his conduct; and
· The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.
Attempts to fire Mueller and then create false evidence
Despite being advised by then-White House Counsel Don McGahn that he
could face legal jeopardy for doing so, Trump directed McGahn on
multiple occasions to fire Mueller or to gin up false conflicts of
interest as a pretext for getting rid of the Special Counsel. When
these acts began to come into public view, Trump made “repeated efforts
to have McGahn deny the story” — going so far as to tell McGahn to write a letter “for our files” falsely denying that Trump had directed Mueller’s termination.
Firing Mueller would have seriously impeded the investigation of the
President and his associates — obstruction in its most literal sense. Directing the creation of false government records in order to prevent
or discredit truthful testimony is similarly unlawful. The Special
Counsel’s report states: “Substantial evidence indicates that in
repeatedly urging McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the
Special Counsel terminated, the President acted for the purpose of
influencing McGahn’s account in order to deflect or prevent scrutiny
of the President’s conduct toward the investigation.”
Attempts to limit the Mueller investigation
The report describes multiple efforts by the president to curtail the
scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation.
First, the President repeatedly pressured then-Attorney General Jeff
Sessions to reverse his legally-mandated decision to recuse himself
from the investigation. The President’s stated reason was that he
wanted an attorney general who would “protect” him, including from
the Special Counsel investigation. He also directed then-White House
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to fire Sessions and Priebus refused.
Second, after McGahn told the President that he could not contact
Sessions himself to discuss the investigation, Trump went outside
the White House, instructing his former campaign manager, Corey
Lewandowski, to carry a demand to Sessions to direct Mueller to
confine his investigation to future elections. Lewandowski tried
and failed to contact Sessions in private. After a second meeting
with Trump, Lewandowski passed Trump’s message to senior White House
official Rick Dearborn, who Lewandowski thought would be a better
messenger because of his prior relationship with Sessions. Dearborn
did not pass along Trump’s message.
As the report explains, “[s]ubstantial evidence indicates that the President’s effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended
to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct” — in other words, the President employed a private
citizen to try to get the Attorney General to limit the scope of an
ongoing investigation into the President and his associates.
All of this conduct — trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others — is
similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials
and people in powerful positions.
Witness tampering and intimidation
The Special Counsel’s report establishes that the President tried to influence the decisions of both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort with
regard to cooperating with investigators. Some of this tampering and intimidation, including the dangling of pardons, was done in plain
sight via tweets and public statements; other such behavior was done
via private messages through private attorneys, such as Trump counsel
Rudy Giuliani’s message to Cohen’s lawyer that Cohen should “[s]leep
well tonight, you have friends in high places.”
Of course, these aren’t the only acts of potential obstruction detailed
by the Special Counsel. It would be well within the purview of normal prosecutorial judgment also to charge other acts detailed in the report.
We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment.
Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be
raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here.
In our system, every accused person is presumed innocent and it is
always the government’s burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable
doubt. But, to 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.
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. 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.
If you are a former federal prosecutor and would like to add your name
below, click here. Protect Democracy will update this list daily with
Signatories have been vetted to the best of our ability.
PoliticsObstruction Of JusticeDepartment Of JusticProtect
DOJ Alumni Statement
Nobody Beats Our Meat
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