George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey’s memo offers “no proof for impeachment” of President Donald Trump.
From The Hill:
For the first time, the Comey memo pushes the litany of controversies surrounding Trump into the scope of the United States criminal code.
However, if this is food for obstruction of justice, it is still an awfully thin soup. Some commentators seem to be alleging criminal conduct in office or calling for impeachment before Trump completed the words of his inaugural oath of office. Not surprising, within minutes of the New York Times report, the response was a chorus of breathless “gotcha” announcements. But this memo is neither the Pentagon Papers nor the Watergate tapes. Indeed, it raises as many questions for Comey as it does Trump in terms of the alleged underlying conduct.
A good place to start would be with the federal law, specifically 18 U.S.C. 1503. The criminal code demands more than what Comey reportedly describes in his memo. There are dozens of different variations of obstruction charges ranging from threatening witnesses to influencing jurors. None would fit this case. That leaves the omnibus provision on attempts to interfere with the “due administration of justice.”
However, that still leaves the need to show that the effort was to influence “corruptly” when Trump could say that he did little but express concern for a longtime associate. The term “corruptly” is actually defined differently under the various obstruction provisions, but it often involves a showing that someone acted “with the intent to secure an unlawful benefit for oneself or another.” Encouraging leniency or advocating for an associate is improper but not necessarily seeking an unlawful benefit for him.
Then there is the question of corruptly influencing what? There is no indication of a grand jury proceeding at the time of the Valentine’s Day meeting between Trump and Comey. Obstruction cases generally are built around judicial proceedings — not Oval Office meetings.
Turley went on to say those seeking to use impeachment as a “vehicle to redo an election” are the ones seeking to compromise the legal system.
Impeachment is not meant to be an alternative for criminal cases that cannot be submitted to a grand jury. It is also not meant to be politics by other means. Finally, it is not a vehicle to redo an election for those with morning-after regrets. Ironically, for those who charge that Trump has compromised the legal system, the same objection can be made over demands for criminal charges or impeachment based on his still undisclosed memo.
Fortunately, there is ample reason to expect answers to these questions. There is a paper trial and witnesses. Moreover, by discussing aspects of these conversations with Comey, Trump has undermined claims of privilege and has made it easier for Comey to speak to Congress. However, absent tapes, this could well end up as a “he said, he said” dispute.
These men were obviously not fond of each other. Comey reportedly said that Trump was “outside the realm of normal” and possibly “crazy.” Trump has called Comey a “showboat” and equally disdainful remarks. Whether it is a memorandum for record or a diary entry, one-sided accounts of conversations generally fall short of compelling evidence with this type of history of tension.
For all of these reasons, we need to move beyond the hyperventilated pronouncements of criminal conduct or impeachable offenses based on this memo. This conversation in the Oval Office is a valid matter of concern and worthy of further investigation. It is not proof of an impeachable offense any more than it is proof of a crime.
No one knows what was actually written in Comey’s notes. A deep state operative described as a “Comey associate” allegedly read the details of this memo to the New York Times over the phone. The lying media ran with the story without having even laid eyes on it.
If Comey thought this was such a big deal, he should have taken it to the DOJ immediately. Instead, he squirreled it away for months to use against Trump at a later date in case he was fired, which he probably knew was inevitable seeing as how he’s an insane social justice warrior.
Comey should be called to testify, though the first thing he should be asked is why he refused to have the FBI examine the Democratic National Committee’s email server and merely took the discredited cyber-security firm CrowdStrike at their word it was hacked by “Russians.”
The US intelligence community has given the American people zero evidence Russia actually carried out this hack, yet all the evidence we’ve seen from Wikileaks and in this new report on Seth Rich from Fox News suggests this was a leak and not a hack.
If that’s the case, this whole “Russia hacked our democracy” narrative is one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated by our lying government and lying media.