Dammit, It's Still Obstruction Even If It Happens In Plain Sight!
Remember that time when Bill Clinton talked to Loretta Lynch for 20 minutes on a tarmac in Phoenix and Republicans LOST THEIR SHIT for two straight years? How even could Attorney General Lynch be objective with GOP flacks breathlessly fantasizing that she had discussed the pending investigation into Hillary Clinton's Buttery Emails? Obviously she is BIASSSSS and we must LOCK HER UP forthwith. Both of them.
But now Donald Trump is screaming at his Attorney General to hurry up and go stick several shivs in the Mueller and SDNY investigations, and nary a peep from those law and order patriots at the GOP. Yeah, color us fucking shocked!
The first known instance took place when Trump made his displeasure clear to acting attorney general Matt Whitaker after Cohen pleaded guilty November 29 to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Whitaker had only been on the job a few weeks following Trump's firing of Jeff Sessions.
Over a week later, Trump again voiced his anger at Whitaker after prosecutors in Manhattan officially implicated the President in a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of women around the 2016 campaign -- something Trump fiercely maintains isn't an illegal campaign contribution. Pointing to articles he said supported his position, Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn't being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rogue.
CNN refers to an "unsettling dynamic," but insists that Trump simply "lashed out" and wasn't trying to get Whitaker to shut down the multiple investigations into his alleged crime spree. We're trying to imagine a situation in which Donald Trump holding up Gregg Jarrett's latest pile of word vomit and asking why Meatball won't "control prosecutors" from SDNY is something other that a blatant attempt to obstruct justice.
YEP, STILL DRAWING A BLANK!
Giuliani poked his head out of the cigar bar to mumble something about "non-crimes."
The President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, could not confirm the conversations with Whitaker but said the President views the SDNY prosecutors as out of control. "The president and his lawyers are upset about the professional prosecutors in the Southern District of New York going after a non-crime and the innuendo the president was involved," Giuliani said in a statement to CNN Friday.
By innuendo we assume he means affidavits swearing that Trump coordinated the payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to influence the election, backed up by Michael Cohen's secret tape recordings. Wink wink, nudge nudge, if you know what we mean, and we think you do.
Meanwhile Whitaker's lackeys protest that the President loves his little Meatball, and the two have a "great relationship," so shut up he's not getting yelled at! Which is hardly a stunning endorsement of the Acting AG's independence and ethical integrity. It was only Thursday when the DOJ finally admitted that Whitaker would be ignoring career ethics staff who urged him to recuse himself based on an obvious appearance of bias, and already he's getting "pressure" to protect the president. But we're sure Whitaker will have no trouble at all splaining that one to Rep. Jerry Nadler and the rest of the House Judiciary Committee come January. You bet!
Okay, real talk, guys. Over two years of the Trump administration, we've become inured to a lot. But let's not let this absolute insanity pass! The President of the United States is directly interfering with investigations of his campaign and company, and it barely penetrates the news cycle.
And while we're talking about crazy shit, let's circle back to soon-to-be attorney general nominee and that funtimes memo that he "volunteered" to the Justice Department this summer. William Barr's theory is that a president can't obstruct justice by interfering with a criminal investigation because HE IS THE LAW. By that logic, a president could take bribes to derail a criminal investigation, and that would be ay-okay. And lookie here, it's Andy McCarthy at the NRO lawsplaining us how the president and vice president can't be prosecuted for taking bribes, since impeachment is the only legal remedy. (It isn't.) Because craven whores gonna craven whore, whaddaya gonna do, right?
But former DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller pointed out something else from the Wall Street Journal story about the Barr Memo.
Yes, why was Barr submitting his memo on the UNPOSSIBILITY of presidential obstruction of justice directly to Trump's defense lawyer Emmet Flood? Because, contrary to GOP spin, it's not totes normal, whatever for former DOJ employees to submit opinion briefs to the Department.
Miller discussed this at length on Renato Mariotti's terrific On Topic podcast. Rod Rosenstein insists that he didn't ask Barr for the memo. But that doesn't mean the White House didn't reach out and see if they could get something from a real lawyer -- not some spittle-flecked nonsense written in Sharpie by the Fox flunkies -- saying that the president can't obstruct justice no matter how hard he tries.
So the White House's legal strategy is that even if Trump ordered Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, and ordered Sessions to fire Mueller, and ordered Whitaker to stop SDNY from indicting Cohen for campaign finance violations, it's fine because there's no such crime as obstruction of justice by the president. And they wound up finding a lawyer to head the Justice Department who thinks the exact same thing.
MAKES YA WONDER, DON'T IT.
Follow your FDF on Twitter!
You likin' these lawsplainers? Well click here to fund 'em!
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.