Report: Trump Pressured the DNI and NSA Chief To Scuttle FBI Investigation

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedThis morning’s news is again filled with a new and troubling disclosure out of the Trump White House.  Various news organizations are reporting that President Donald Trump spoke to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers about the Russian investigation and asked them to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russia.  I was on Morning Joe today and once again cautioned about declaring a prima facie case of obstruction (as many have done on CNN and other networks) in the absence of facts satisfying the elements for that crime.  While it is obviously something of a buzz kill, there still is not sufficient evidence (even if these accounts are true) to support an indictment.

In addition to the statements to Rogers and Coats, the Washington Post details how White House officials asked other officials “Can we ask him to shut down the investigation? Are you able to assist in this matter?”
Once again, it is important to consider whether such statements meet the definition of obstruction of justice.  Do these inquiries, if true, constitute an attempt by someone to “corruptly” “influence, obstruct, or impede” the “due administration” of justice. This is usually anchored in a pending judicial or congressional proceeding.  Let’s say for the moment that the FBI can say that there were ongoing proceedings to “obstruct” in the form of the investigations in February and March.  Would these comments be an effort to corruptly influence or impede?  Trump can insist that he viewed the investigations as baseless and wanted to the investigation to be closed in the absence of any real evidence of collusion.  More importantly, it is relevant to ask about the underlying crime.  Trump himself is not accused of any underlying crime.  Moreover, “collusion” is not some readily identifiable crime under the criminal code.  Certainly the failure to register as a foreign agent is a crime, albeit one that is rarely prosecuted.  Lying to investigators is a crime, but that would be directed at Flynn and not Trump in all likelihood.
Section 1503 is a likely basis for investigation due to its catch all clause. The Section states:

(a)

Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any grand or petit juror, or officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate, in the discharge of his duty, or injures any such grand or petit juror in his person or property on account of any verdict or indictment assented to by him, or on account of his being or having been such juror, or injures any such officer, magistrate judge, or other committing magistrate in his person or property on account of the performance of his official duties, or corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b). If the offense under this section occurs in connection with a trial of a criminal case, and the act in violation of this section involves the threat of physical force or physical force, the maximum term of imprisonment which may be imposed for the offense shall be the higher of that otherwise provided by law or the maximum term that could have been imposed for any offense charged in such case.
Much of Section 1503 refers to formal proceedings or court officers or jurors.  It does have “corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice.”  That line has been used primarily in reference to obstructing formal proceedings, but the Justice Department could try to secure a more expansive reading. However, there is a danger to such expansive readings of the criminal code.  The Justice Department could start to criminalize a huge range of conduct or comments by alleging that there was a prospect of a grand jury investigation or other proceeding.
There is also Section 1505 but that is not much more help during the time frame of these comments of February and March.  Section 1505 states:

Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress—

Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.

 Section 1505 references two types of obstruction.  First, there is a “pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States.”  It is not clear that such a proceeding existed, particularly in the absence of a grand jury proceeding.  We may learn more about such proceedings but that would be the best foundation.  The second reference is to “the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress.”  However, Trump’s comments were directed at the FBI investigation and the congressional inquiries were broader and less defined.
Section 1505 also allows for prosecution for withholding, misrepresenting, removing from any place, concealing, covering up, destroying, mutilating, altering, or by other means falsifying any documentary material, answers to written interrogatories, or oral testimony with the intent of avoiding, evading, preventing, or obstructing compliance, in whole or in part, with that demand.  We have yet to see evidence of such conduct within the White House. Flynn might be accused of concealing such material, but again it is a bit early on that count.

Notably, Trump was public about his dismissal of the Russian investigation and his view that it was a politically manipulated allegation.  He was not hiding his desire to see the investigation ended.  His comments to Comey and others were clearly and grossly improper. But were they crimes in themselves?  That is the more difficult question.

The comments could reflect Trump’s sensitivity over allegations tarnishing his historic victory over Clinton.  He is notoriously sensitive over his public persona.  The additional allegations (and contemporary memorialization by staffers) offer ample reason to investigation and obstruction should be a focus of the investigation.  However, such investigations generally work from a foundation in the criminal code.  As of now, his comments make Trump appear more like Captain Queeg than John Gotti:

93 thoughts on “Report: Trump Pressured the DNI and NSA Chief To Scuttle FBI Investigation

  1. Alotta misinformation in the comments so far.

    For example, uranium is highly controlled by the DoE and the FBI Director has no access to it.

  2. Ahhh, yes. ROCK SOLID information that Trump “scuttled” an investigation? And from who? Why the Fake News, of course.

    And what is their “rock solid” information? Well, speaking of “rock,” here’s a classic rock song that tells the story:

  3. Obama abused the power of government against the People on a daily basis;

    IRS, Benghazi, Unmasking, etc. but Obama is never even accused of having “intent.”

    Comey delineated and provided probable cause requiring prosecution

    regarding the multiple violations of Hillary Clinton.

    The shadow government then had Comey exonerate Hillary

    assuring America and American jurisprudence that she had “no intent.”

    Conversely, President Donald Trump and General Flynn

    have treasonous “intent” with every utterance.

    This “reign of terror” of tyrannical collectivism and corruption of American governance is historic.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  4. We don’t know if Trump or his campaign is suspected of colluding with the Russians because there is still a lot of information that is not public because it is classified. There, in fact, may be evidence of collusion. We know that Flynn, Manafort, and Kushner met with the Russians. Were there others? Were they directed by Trump? We don’t know.

    I think that having the power to fire someone who doesn’t shut down an investigation or otherwise do the bidding of the President relative to investigations is threat enough. The President has already demonstrated a willingness to use this power by firing the director of the FBI only 2 years into his 10 year term for not cooperating with his wishes to shut down an investigation.

    • We know that Clinton had ties to the Russkies as well. Those are actually provable! Bettykath, I don’t remember you calling for an investigation of her ties with the Ruskies or Podesta’s.

      Right now we have a factual case regarding Clinton and friends and Russkies. We have an innuendo case against Trump and friends. We should have an investigation into all of them, Imo. You are also relaying a talking point about why Trump fired Comey. We don’t know that yet. It’s still speculation from anonymous sources. So let’s get these people to testify under oath-all of them, including Clinton and Podesta. If you want to find connections to the Ruskies in our govt., you will need to call people with proven nefarious uranium deals! I’m all for that!!!

      If you want to impeach Trump here’s a link:

      http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/05/67701.html

  5. Robert Mueller has to recuse himself over direct ties to Clinton’s corruption, Uranium 1 & Russia

    ” Wikileaks Reveal Former FBI Director Mueller Gave Russia Uranium In 2009 ”

      • BB,

        Yes, wikileaks seems to me at this time to be traitors to the Deepstate that are enemies to the USA people’s Republic.

        There are plenty more of these Pieczenik interviews/videos.

        Steve Pieczenik: Vault 7 Is Aimed To Take Down CIA. Infowars Mar 07 2017

      • Wikileaks IS a traitor to the tyrannical, anti-American, collectivist, other-people’s-money, democrat party.

        Democrats just hate freedom, “self reliance,” merit, the “pursuit of happiness” and private property.

        “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” – Karl Marx’s Democrat Party

        People must adapt to the outcome of freedom.

        Freedom does not adapt to people.

        Charity is noble private industry.

  6. I wanted to add, Seth Rich was a hero. Unlike any of the Trump people or the IC anonymous leakers to the Deep State transmission belt, he cared about our nation.

    • Jill,

      I don’t keep up daily but the last numbers I’ve been hearing is that Trump & AG Sessions have arrested between 5-6000 child torturers/rapist & rescued go on 1000 kids, some of which were held in cages.

      This is the opening of Trumps/AG Sessions war on Clinton’s/Deepstate’s Pedogate.

      If you were one of those 6 or 7 year old kids held in those cages that has been rescued who would you call a hero?

      Now do you see why Clintons/Deepstate so hard?

      Major LEO officers have claimed off record more info is coming out to the public & that there is something 1/3 to 1/2 of congress, some judges, business leaders involved in this child trafficking/Pedogate.

      Check this site & donate if you like.

      Vets4childrescue.com

    • Agree Jill. Rich acted with his conscience. Kimdotcom sez he’s willing to come to the US to testify which I think is incredibly foolish – surely can testify from NZ?

      “I have consulted with my lawyers. I accept that my full statement should be provided to the authorities and I am prepared to do that so that there can be a full investigation. My lawyers will speak with the authorities regarding the proper process.

      If my evidence is required to be given in the United States I would be prepared to do so if appropriate arrangements are made. I would need a guarantee from Special Counsel Mueller, on behalf of the United States, of safe passage from New Zealand to the United States and back. In the coming days we will be communicating with the appropriate authorities to make the necessary arrangements. In the meantime, I will make no further comment.”

      http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/05/breaking-internet-hacker-kim-dot-com-releases-documents-seth-rich-leaked-podesta-wikileaks-emails/

  7. Here is what it looks like when a person takes a great risk to give actual information in the public domain:

    “I KNOW THAT SETCH RICH WAS INVOLVED IN THE DNC LEAK.
    I know this because in late 2014 a person contacted me about helping me to start a branch of the Internet Party in the United States. He called himself Panda. I now know that Panda was Seth Rich.

    Panda advised me that he was working on voter analytics tools and other technologies that the Internet Party may find helpful.

    I communicated with Panda on a number of topics including corruption and the influence of corporate money in politics.

    “He wanted to change that from the inside.”
    I was referring to what I knew when I did an interview with Bloomberg in New Zealand in May 2015. In that interview I hinted that Julian Assange and Wikileaks would release information about Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election.

    The Rich family has reached out to me to ask that I be sensitive to their loss in my public comments. That request is entirely reasonable.

    I have consulted with my lawyers. I accept that my full statement should be provided to the authorities and I am prepared to do that so that there can be a full investigation. My lawyers will speak with the authorities regarding the proper process….: see the rest at #kimdotcom.

  8. Like Flynn,

    Every single person who makes these claims need to testify under oath before Congress. Congress has the right to jail people for refusing to do this and they have a jail cell. Use it! Until they do so, I will not consider IC leaks w/o evidence to mean anything other than distractions. Here are some things the deep state doesn’t want us to think about

    USGinc. supports and arms ISIS. They just sold a ton of weapons to one of the most repressive nations in the world. They have an illegal, mass surveillance program gathering up everything on everyone. They have lost control of some of these tools to disastrous effect. The bankers are funding illegal weapons sales. They have found new ways to security vapor debts which will further devastate our economy when that bill comes due. The Trump budget is increases of defense, 25 % decrease for food stamps, a war on the poor and middle class. I could go on.

    There is a reason we hear very little about any of this. The deep state runs the racket which is USGINC. There’s also news, actual information being given by kimdotcom about the murder of Seth Rich, the person who likely leaked the DNC e-mails. He doesn’t work for Russia.

  9. Let the facts go where they must–beyond this matter though that Prof Turley noted, what is also quite problematic is how the Adminstration, though, is treating ethics as also reported in today’s New York Times.

      • You mean the cover-up of the crimes of Obama, Jarrett, Rice, “I-was-found-in-contempt” Holder, Hillary, Loretta “I-love-the-tarmac” Lynch, Frau Obergruppenführer Lois Lerner et al.? How’s all that Benghazi gun-running, State Dept. pay-for-play, the anti-Muslim-video-did-it election fraud, “wiretapping,” surveillance of elected officials and unmasking workin’ for ya?

        • Trump is President. if there is actual evidence of any of the crimes of which you speak he has not only the authority but the responsibility to turn over any evidence and request the DOJ pursue these matters. So why isn’t he doing that? Oh wait I know these are just substanceless right wing talking points.

          • So far the requests have been made to Flynn, Manafort, Stone and others. Don’t worry. Trump will get his turn.

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