Donald Trump

Did Trump Obstruct Justice? Does It Matter?

Conduct that does not meet the legal criteria for an obstruction charge could still be serious enough to justify impeachment.

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White House

In a January 29 letter to Special Counsel Robert Mueller that The New York Times published on Saturday, Donald Trump's lawyers explain in detail why he is not guilty of obstructing justice. They are probably right, and it probably does not matter.

The 20-page letter focuses on the two purported incidents of obstruction that have received the most attention: Trump's alleged request that FBI Director James Comey go easy on National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Trump's subsequent decision to fire Comey. In both cases, attorneys John Dowd and Jay Sekulow argue, Trump did not do what people claim, and even if he had it would be within his constitutional authority as president and outside the scope of the relevant obstruction statutes. "It remains our position," they write, "that the President's actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself."

That position has provoked a strong response from Trump's critics, who argue that it places him "above the law." Since the president legally could have ordered Comey to leave Flynn alone or halt the Russia investigation, Dowd and Sekulow say, anything short of that direct approach cannot be obstruction, even if the goal was protecting Trump. If the president has the legal authority to do something, in other words, his motive cannot make it a crime. That's a pretty bold claim, and it is debatable given the broad definition of obstruction in the statute that seems most apposite.

Under 18 USC 1512, someone can commit obstruction by "corruptly" destroying records, "corruptly" persuading someone, or "corruptly" doing anything else that "obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so." The law defines corruptly as "acting with an improper purpose." Hence actions that would otherwise be legal—e.g., deleting email, treating someone to a fancy dinner, or simply talking to him—become a crime when done with "an improper purpose." Dowd and Sekulow are claiming the president, by virtue of his role as "the chief law enforcement officer," is special in that regard. Some legal scholars agree; many others do not.

Dowd and Sekulow are on firmer ground in arguing that Trump could not have committed obstruction by interfering with an FBI investigation because an FBI investigation does not qualify as an "official proceeding." According to the U.S. Attorneys' Manual, FBI investigations don't count as "proceedings" under 18 USC 1505, another obstruction provision. Whether they count as official proceedings under Section 1512 is unsettled, but in 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit concluded that they do not.

Even assuming that interceding with Comey on Flynn's behalf or firing Comey could qualify as obstruction, proving corrupt intent is not as straightforward as it might seem. Trump's alleged comment to Comey about Flynn (which Trump denies making) was ambiguous and could be attributed to personal concern: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go." While Comey said he interpreted the statement as an instruction, it was one he did not follow, and he did not express any concern about its propriety to Trump, to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The initial explanation for firing Comey—his unfairness to Hillary Clinton in the way he handled the investigation of her email practices as secretary of state—was hard to buy given that Trump had always complained that she got off too easily. But Sessions and Rosenstein were both complicit in that pretense, putting Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, in the odd situation of overseeing an obstruction investigation that hinges to a large extent on a motive he himself helped obscure. Trump dropped the cover story within a few days of dismissing Comey, when he admitted in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt that he had already made the decision before receiving guidance from Sessions and Rosenstein.

Trump also conceded that the Russia investigation had been on his mind. But Dowd and Sekulow argue that his rambling comments to Holt were misinterpreted. What the president meant, they say, is that he fired Comey even though he knew that doing so might prolong the investigation. That interpretation is consistent with this excerpt from the interview:

As far as I'm concerned, I want that thing [the Russia investigation] to be absolutely done properly. When I did this now, I said I probably maybe will confuse people. Maybe I'll expand that—you know, I'll lengthen the time because it should be over with. It should—in my opinion, should've been over with a long time ago because it—all it is [is] an excuse. But I said to myself I might even lengthen out the investigation. But I have to do the right thing for the American people. He's the wrong man for that position.

Firing Comey, of course, did not actually end the Russia investigation. To the contrary, it was followed by Mueller's appointment, which probably made the probe broader and longer than it otherwise would have been, just as Trump feared. That upshot casts considerable doubt on whether Trump's dismissal of Comey was such that "its natural and probable effect would be the interference with the due administration of justice," as required to make an obstruction charge stick.

It seems likely that Trump fired Comey for a mixture of reasons, one of them being his anger at the FBI director's refusal to publicly state that he was not a target of the Russia investigation. Given the alternative explanations, proving a specific intent to obstruct justice would be difficult. Even if Trump did tell Russian officials that getting rid of that "real nut job" relieved "great pressure because of Russia," Dowd and Sekulow note, that comment (which Trump denies) "does not establish that the termination was because of the Russia investigation."

Mueller, however, does not have to worry about proving that the president obstructed justice, because he won't be prosecuting Trump. The Justice Department takes the position that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and Mueller's office has told Trump's lawyers he will abide by that policy. In practice, then, it does not matter whether Trump broke the law; what matters is whether Congress decides that he abused his powers egregiously enough to warrant impeachment and removal, which might be true even if his actions do not meet the legal criteria for an obstruction charge. Although "high crimes and misdemeanors" can involve provable violations of the law, Congress has the power to define the phrase on a case-by-case basis.

The question of whether Trump could pre-emptively pardon himself, which he brought up on Twitter this morning, illustrates the distinction between what the president can legally do and what he can do without getting impeached. "I have the absolute right to PARDON myself," Trump tweeted, "but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?" On ABC's This Week yesterday, Rudy Giuliani, who joined Trump's legal team after Dowd quit in March, agreed that Trump "probably does" have the legal authority to pardon himself, since the Constitution does not qualify that power. But on NBC's Meet the Press, Giuliani added that "pardoning himself would just be unthinkable" and "would lead to probably an immediate impeachment."

NEXT: In New York–Massachusetts Rivalry, Massachusetts Is Winning

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239 responses to “Did Trump Obstruct Justice? Does It Matter?

  1. “what matters is whether Congress decides that he abused his powers egregiously enough to warrant impeachment and removal, which might be true even if his actions do not meet the legal criteria for obstruction charges.”

    In reality, the politics of the situation will prevail. Whether Trump is impeached by the House will be dependent most heavily on the number of D’s and R’s in the House at the time of concern. Likewise his subsequent removal from office will be dependent on the breakdown of the Senate.

    1. I disagree. If they won both the House and the Senate and tossed Trump, the backlash from overturning an election based on murky “obstruction” or “collusion” (whatever the hell that means) charges would haunt Team Blue for a very long time, and not just at the national level.

      1. I really don’t think that would stop Democrats for a minute. They are living in a bubble. They genuinely believe that everyone hates Trump accept a few rabid supporters.

        What will stop an impeachment from even starting is not having 60 Democrats in the Senate.

        1. No it would not. They are nuts. Look at Tony and Shreek. But they will never accomplish it. All it is going to do is ensure they never give the public a reason to vote for them.

          1. You’re full of shit. Dems don’t have 67 votes in the Senate to convict. Besides, they are pussies that would not impeach Dumbya and Dickless Cheney.

            1. Yes, Trump is going to be President until 2025. Glad to see you are starting to get used to that idea.

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            2. I would oppose a single Democratic vote to convict Trump (impeach, to hobble him, sure, but not one vote to convict on currently available evidence).

              Republicans broke this. If they want Democrats to help them fix it, compensation should be required (such as a Pence resignation, with a consensus replacement).

              Let the Republicans have Trump for four years, and be branded with his stain for a generation or two.

              1. Yes, he is going to President for two full terms and then whoever he designates as a successor for four years after that. Welcome to the wilderness dipshit.

                1. You keep betting on backwardness, bigotry, ignorance, and superstition, John, and for a bonus you get to continue to wonder why your entire life consists of having progress shoved down your throat by your betters.

                  The liberal-libertarian alliance should not get overconfident, though. If Trump and conservatives perfect a machine that mass-produces cranky, old, half-educated, economically inadequate, easily frightened, religious, rural white men, and the Republican Party figures a way to register all of the newly minted yahoos to vote, John’s dreams could come true. Prayer in schools, resurgent gay-bashing, creationism, the drug war, a return to black men being forced to lower their gaze in the company of white women . . . the entirety of the right-wing wish list.

                  Carry on, clingers.

                  1. Are you done spouting meaningless buzzwords lad, or are you just going to keepmasturbating mentally and do it some more?

                    1. * keep masturbating

      2. The Dems could literally win every Senate race in 2018 and would still need something like 10 Republicans to join them to remove Trump, assuming they all voted in lockstep. That’s because Senate removal requires a two-thirds majority, whereas impeachment just requires a majority in the House.

        1. Right. Even assuming that the Democrats will automatically vote to impeach Trump regardless, you need a case that would persuade a sizeable number of Republicans.

          I think it’s pretty much a given that Trump will be impeached in the House, should the Democrats get a significant majority there. Conviction in the Senate would require evidence of actual wrongdoing, and not just what Democrats view as wrongdoing, but something Republicans would think was wrong.

    2. Since impeachment is undoing an election, that is how it should be. He is not going to be impeached much less removed from office.

      1. You would hope that there might be more meaning to “high crimes and misdemeanors” beyond just partisanship. You would hope…

    3. There’s a hypothetical scenario in which he is exposed as having done such terrible things that Republicans will have no choice but to rid themselves of him, but I think that will simply turn into another facts vs. conspiracy theory cable news foodfight.

      What they (Republican senators, rightwing pundits) probably want deep down is for him to go away so they don’t have to defend him anymore. It’s just a matter of getting his followers not to put their heads on spikes for it.

      1. When Trump is re-elected you are going to have some kind of a breakdown. It is going to be funny to watch. Please don’t deprive us of it.

        1. You genunely figure there are enough half-educated bigots in America to run the table (with several bank shots) for Trump again?

          I am skeptical. Our electorate improves each day, to Trump’s detriment.

          1. Trump’s approval ratings improve every day. It is his world. You just live in it. Pig ignorant backward idiots like you have no future in this country. You might as well try to see if Canada will take you.

          2. Our electorate improves each day, to Trump’s detriment.

            The quality of the electorate is only part of the equation. If Hitler is an option and you put up a candidate that’s objectively worse than Hitler, he still wins.

          3. Our electorate improves each day, to Trump’s detriment.

            The economy seems to improve each day, to Team Blue’s detriment. At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if a bunch of libertarians voted for Trump in 2020 and whoever the LP nominates returns to ending up with less than 1% of the vote like in 2012. He’s given them Gorsuch, a ton of Obama regulations repealed, a less-insane level of warmongering than Obama or Bush, tax cuts (albeit without corresponding spending cuts), and a near endless flood of liberal tears.

            1. a near endless flood of liberal tears.

              Not a healthy motive for governing in a mature society.

              1. Any hope of a healthy society went down the toilet decades ago. I’ll settle for revenge.

              2. Sure it it is- you cry when America improves. There really is no better metric for judging America success. Are there false positives sure- you seem like a guy that cries himself to sleep a lot.

            2. “tax cuts (albeit without corresponding spending cuts),”

              If Trump follows through on his statement regarding the budget (“This is the last time folks”) then there is a strong possibility that a lot of libertarians and others who did not vote for Trump, or did not vote, could come out for him.

              1. Except for the whole “trade wars are good”, “build the wall”, “Mexicans are rapists” crap…

                1. And other lies the radical crypto-marxist tells himself.

          4. How do you define “half-educated”? Someone who doesn’t think like you? What makes you the arbiter of what is educated and what is not?

            Donald Trump won because he was running against Hillary Clinton.

            1. Mikey Hihn (DBA Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland) is very insecure about his obvious intellectual impairments which are only exacerbated by his senile dementia.

      2. There’s a hypothetical scenario in which he is exposed as having done such terrible things that Republicans will have no choice but to rid themselves of him

        When that happens, let me know.

        What they (Republican senators, rightwing pundits) probably want deep down is for him to go away so they don’t have to defend him anymore. It’s just a matter of getting his followers not to put their heads on spikes for it.

        Given that his predecessor used the IRS against political rivals, the FBI against political rivals, the DoJ to force gun store owners to make illegal gun sales to stifle Constitutional rights here…Trump has a long way to go to touch that.

        1. Given that his predecessor used the IRS against political rivals,

          That lie again.

          Unless Lois Lerner was POTUS.

          1. Why else was she and the IRS Cheif counsel at the White House dozens of times? And Obama never disciplined anyone over it. So, it is pretty clear he approved. Stop lying.

            1. They just stopped by for coffee, and during the conversation Obama said something along the lines of ‘Will nobody rid me of this turbulent Tea Party?’

          2. So hitler did really do anything bad, right?

          3. I’m sorry — is Lerner an executive employee?

            Why, yes, yes she was.

            Was she PUNISHED by anybody for what she did?

            Why, no, no she was not.

            Was ANYBODY punished over it?

            Also no, nobody was.

            So, they did this with Obama implicit authorization. If he didn’t implicitly permit it, heads would have rolled. None did. The IRS, in fact, then proceeded to obstruct justice by ignoring subpoenas then intentionally destroying evidence.

            Obama, mind you, didn’t care about THAT, either.

          4. “That lie again.
            Unless Lois Lerner was POTUS.”

            turd is convinced that in Obo’s admin, the buck stops somewhere else.

            1. Well, he did always learn about everything on the news, like everyone else.

      3. Tony|6.4.18 @ 4:49PM|#
        “There’s a hypothetical scenario in which he is exposed as having done such terrible things that Republicans will have no choice but to rid themselves of him, but I think that will simply turn into another facts vs. conspiracy theory cable news foodfight.”

        You should stop drinking.

  2. The initial explanation for firing Comey?his unfairness to Hillary Clinton in the way he handled the investigation of her email practices as secretary of state?was hard to believe given that Trump had always complained that she got off too easily.

    Well, he was a huge Clinton donor.

    1. And then there’s the part where after he got elected and the crowd at one of his rallies started chanting “Lock her up!” as they did during the campaign, he quickly shut it down by claiming that no, no, she’d suffered enough and it was time to leave poor Hillary alone. Trump doesn’t dislike Hillary, it’s just an act.

      1. “”Trump doesn’t dislike Hillary, it’s just an act.””

        I agree. Trump and the Clintons have a relationship that goes back a couple of decades when Clinton came to NY looking for donor money for his president run.

        Trump was elected by the anti-Hillary crowd. He’s gotta play to the base.

      2. I still think Trump should have pardoned Hillary back in early 2017. It would have been so perfect. She’s not going to jail anyway, and now she’d have that mark on her legacy forever.

        1. Given that Clinton is an attorney and would therefore be fully aware that to accept a pardon is to acknowledge guilt, I highly doubt she would have accepted a pardon even if one were offered.

        2. It would have been even better if she had to kneel before Trump in a public ceremony and kiss his ring to get it too.

      3. Trump didn’t dislike Hillary, and, yes, it probably was just an act. Past tense.

        That’s why the Democrats trying to get rid of him was such a mistake. They’ve given him reason for that dislike.

  3. I’m not sure I understand the need to give TDS sufferers such a forum. Of all the nothingburgers at play in this incredibly wasteful distraction that is the Russia controversy, this obstruction fantasy has to be the nothingest.

    1. As libertarians we simply have a bias against abuse of power by heads of state. Call it derangement, I just call it freedom.

      1. Hmm, Tony, you seemed quiet about Obama spying on reporters.

        Or Congress.

        Or Trump’s campaign.

        Or using the IRS to attack political rivals.

        Not sure how you describe freedom.

        1. Freedom from horseshit conspiracy theories you read on some blog is one drop in the sea of freedom.

          1. Hmm, let’s see:

            1) Factual reality.
            2) Also factual reality — unless you wish to argue that Obama’s intel apparatus was so out of control that they spied on Congress without his knowledge, which seems suspect.
            3) Well, we have the last 18 months or so of stories to verify that.
            4) IRS admitted to it.

            Seems like you misspelled “facts” there, son.

          2. The IRS paid out millions in damages to conservative organizations and apologized.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2017/10…..ement.html

            Stop lying you nasty little fuck.

            1. That was a travesty. The IRS was looking at fringe groups right and left for violations of tax exempt status. As it should have been. Obama as was his wont caved in order to make the nonsense FOX News horseshit disappear.

              Now defend “Obama spied on the Trump campaign.”

              1. The IRS admitted to doing it.

                And the FBI sent a Cambridge Professor to pretend to be a supporter and infiltrate the Trump campaign and report back on everything he heard. Only your diseased ridden perverted mind could convince yourself that is not spying.

                Go lie to someone dumb enough to believe you.

                1. Meh. It wasn’t the scandal you thought it was. They just got lazy in their search terms. Do you admit that it was blown beyond all reasonable proportion, and that Obama’s scandals were so few that you had to settle for minor crap like that and nonexistent crap like Fast and Furious and Benghazi?

                  I mean, don’t you think that making stupid bullshit up out of thin air actually harms your credibility? Something to consider.

                  Spying vs. investigating. This is where the real partisan shit hits the fan. The Trump campaign was doing stuff worthy of being investigated by the FBI. Thus, the bullshit rigthwing media has you believing that it’s the FBI doing something wrong. It’s really quite something to behold.

                  1. https://danfromsquirrelhill.wordpress. com/2013/08/15/obama-252/

                  2. ote>

                    Of the two of you, only one had a clue what they were talking about. It was not you. Your opinion here is meaningless.

                    They just got lazy in their search terms. Do you admit that it was blown beyond all reasonable proportion, and that Obama’s scandals were so few that you had to settle for minor crap like that and nonexistent crap like Fast and Furious and Benghazi?

                    Says a Russiagate believer here.

                    Obama was laden with scandals. The media and the Left (I repeat myself) just don’t think black folks are capable of being held to any standards, so they do not.

                    Spying vs. investigating. This is where the real partisan shit hits the fan. The Trump campaign was doing stuff worthy of being investigated by the FBI.

                    Yet nobody seems to find ANYTHING they did.

              2. That was a travesty. The IRS was looking at fringe groups right and left for violations of tax exempt status.

                By fringe, you mean ALL right wing groups.

                The Left wing groups, mind you, got their tax exempt approvals almost immediately.

                Right wing? YEARS.

                This was admitted to by the IRS.

                1. This country gives tax exemption to all sorts of rightwing groups, including churches, that brazenly defy the requirements. And basically it’s just because they bully the government into doing it.

                  1. So they deserved it.

                  2. Tony, this is all just another reason that you and your kind should be dealt with. You will never let Americans be free as long as you exist and are on our shores. All of you need to be stripped of your citizenship (a formality) and dumped off somewhere fa away. Never for any of you to return.

                    1. Fa is a long long way to run.

                  3. So, Tony, churches are now right-wing?

                    Well, they actually DO charity and studies show the Left isn’t big on that, so it fits.

                    BTW, the only churches that tend to allow politicization are black churches. Hate to break it to you. You don’t see Republicans doing any campaign things AT ALL in churches.

          3. Tony’s inability to tell horseshit conspiracy from reality

            Spied on Congress

            Let’s see if he goes from conspiracy to they were right to do that.

            1. The CIA did that, not Obama. I think Democrats in the senate were if anything more pissed about that than Republicans.

              1. The CIA did that, not Obama

                Obama was in charge of the CIA you dumb fuck.

                1. Thus the conspiracy theory: Obama directed the CIA to spy on Congress. You just make shit up. Rather, you soak shit up you hear from fat man radio or whatever.

                  1. Just like when Reagan knew nothing of Col. North and the Iran/contra bed weapons sales

                2. What’s funny John it that Tony would understand if Trump’s CIA was spying on the Congress.

                  1. Look Vic, holding Obama accountable for the actions of the organizations he is responsible for running, is just a conspiracy theory. It boggles the mind how people can be as stupid and dishonest as Tony and Shreek really are.

                  2. Vic, understand that Tony believes what the democrats tell him to. To a great extent he is an empty vessel, eagerly waiting to be filled with their bullshit. I’ve known many like him.

                  3. Trump’s CIA probably IS spying on Congress. Just not for Trump, for themselves.

              2. Explains the hearings on the matter that they demanded…

            2. Tony, I’m curious, do you believe that when it comes to offices that the President controls, the buck stops with the President?

            3. Or let me put it this way. There are many things that Trump is being accused of which he did not order or direct. Yet, many think it’s still about Trump. Because it’s under the Trump umbrella.

              The CIA at that time was under Obama’s umbrella.

              1. I don’t indulge Hannity addicts their partisan and disingenuous hacky conspiracy theories. This is not about where the buck stops. You want to compare presidential corruption? We’re only in Trump’s 2nd year and he’s already racked up so much shit that, were he a Democrat, FOX News wouldn’t even know where to fucking start. Their heads would just explode.

                1. We’re only in Trump’s 2nd year and he’s already racked up so much shit that,

                  So much shit you can’t give a single example of it. All you have is a bunch of Russia fantasies. Anyone on here can give a long list of Obama corruption from Fast and Furiuous, to IRS spying, to Uranium One, to Bengazi, to lying about the Iran deal and many others. You can’t give a single example. You don’t know know what Trump has done, but you are sure he has done something.

                  You are pathetic Tony. just pathetic.

                  1. What would you say if Obama had cheated on his wife with a porn star? Be as honest as you are capable of.

                    1. Over 10 years ago? I wouldn’t give a shit.

                    2. Horsepucky, but I was asking John. He never answers the tough questions.

                    3. Horsepucky, but I was asking John. He never answers the tough questions.

                      With me not being John, but having a read a lot of his posts, I doubt he’d care if a man cheated on his wife a decade ago.

                    4. “What would you say if Obama had cheated on his wife with a porn star? Be as honest as you are capable of.”

                      Ok, real honesty.

                      He’s an actual man who likes fucking attractive women and wanted to finally try it.

                    5. I’d assume he got over his mythical beast bestiality fetish.

                      Barack — Chewbacca ain’t real.

                    6. No way he didn’t bang some of those celebrity hangers on.

                      And I wouldn’t blame him in the least. Just like I didn’t think it was a big deal that Clinton cigared Lewinsky, even though I was 18 at the time.

                  2. John, in all fairness to Tony, he’s saying he does indulge conspiracies born from republicans and their allies. He didn’t say anything about indulging conspiracies from democrats and their allies. Which he obviously does.

                2. “”You want to compare presidential corruption?””

                  No, that’s not what we are doing here. Red herring much?

                  It is about responsibility of who you are in charge of. If you can’t understand that, you’ve never been an executive level anything.

                  Obama’s CIA spied on Congress. It’s a fact. It doesn’t matter who ordered it. It’s still a fact that Obama’s CIA spied on Congress.

                  1. Bad Obama’s CIA! Happy?

                    Now do the others. When did Obama spy on the Trump campaign?

                    1. “”When did Obama spy on the Trump campaign?””

                      When they put an informant in the Trump campaign. Which James Clapper admitted.

                      I think the narrative of trying to say the spying was on the Russians is a half sandwich where they want to ignore the other half.

                    2. And whatever words we choose to describe that, explain why it’s a scandal.

                    3. “”And whatever words we choose to describe that,”‘

                      Describe what? the spying that was done inside of the Trump admin. Which you don’t want to admit?

                      “”explain why it’s a scandal.””

                      I haven’t called it a scandal so I’m not sure who you are talking to. But again, you are trying to use a red herring. However, you can’t ask why it’s a scandal unless you agree it exists.

                    4. It wasn’t “spying,” it was “investigating.” You know the I in FBI?

                      The scandal is what the Trump campaign was doing, not law enforcement investigating it.

                      The good thing is that serious people such as the special counsel won’t buy this lame kindergarten propaganda “It’s opposite day!!” even if you and millions of FOX News junkies will.

                    5. What PRECISELY was the Trump campaign doing?

                      The FBI, mind you, has still not found anything.

                    6. Uh, yes they have. You may not know about it all yet.

                    7. Uh, yes they have. You may not know about it all yet.

                      I’ve followed the story.

                      No, they have not found a thing.

                    8. not law enforcement investigating it.””

                      Having a plain clothed officer of the state gathering information can be called spying, sure you could call it investigating too. But it’s still spying.

                      Nice to see you admitted that it did happen.

                    9. It wasn’t “spying,” it was “investigating.”

                      I take it as prima facie evidence of bad faith whenever someone tries to pass off such obvious weaselry in defence of their views.

                    10. Tony: “The cop wasn’t violating my rights with an illegal search of my car. He was just walking around and observing. Very, very closely”

                    11. Two things:

                      1. If one is to distinguish between a confidential informant and a spy, one should examine how the CI / Spy became involved with the target organization. If the person was already part of the organization prior to being contacted by the entity conducting an investigation, the person could be called a confidential informant.

                      However, if the person was PLACED in the targeted organization, the person would be more accurately described as a spy. PLACED could be used synonymously with infiltrated.

                      2. To be fair to the record with regard to scandals, we can’t ignore all of the swamp creatures Trump has appointed and their swamp like activities. Mr. Pruitt is but one example.

                    12. Libertymike, my understanding is that it depends (at least in part) on the type of investigation.

                      For a counter intelligence operation it’s a spy, and for a criminal matter it’s a criminal informant.

                      Since the investigation at the time was indeed a counter intelligence case, than ‘spy’ is apt but it’s really just splitting hairs. The guy acted like a spy, so the only reason not to call them that is to control the language and thus the narrative and specifically to spin it away from language that makes the Obama administration look bad.

                      The goal is two-fold:

                      Smear Trump, and protect Obama. Pretty simple. They would also love it if ‘smear Trump’ turned into ‘impeach Trump’ but for that they would need to actually find something.

                    13. Your distinction between counter-intelligence investigations and criminal investigations is a good one., but the manner in which the CI / Spy is activated is also legitimate in assessing the situation.

                      I agree with you that spy is the better descriptor.

                      Also agree that smearing Trump is the objective and part of fulfilling that objective is ridiculing the notion that the intelligence agencies were spying on the Trump campaign.

                3. “I don’t indulge Hannity addicts their partisan and disingenuous hacky conspiracy theories”

                  See how the traitor attempts to divert by invoking names like “Hannity”, or “Rush” when those names were not mentioned or relevant.

                  “We’re only in Trump’s 2nd year and he’s already racked up so much shit ”

                  See how the traitor makes up vague accusations. Nothing specific, as there is nothing there.

      2. “As libertarians we”

        What’s with this strange, nonsensical attempt to rebrand yourself?

  4. It’s certainly an exciting time for new precedents with respect to presidential power. Presidents can clearly be impeached on obstruction of justice charges (because they have). I’d hate for these things to be applied to presidents in an inconsistent manner.

    But as to whether they can pardon themselves? I believe the legal consensus is that it’s too stupid a claim to have ever come up.

    I hope people are studying The Art of the Deal and recognizing that these opening offers are straight out of Trump’s standard negotiating crayon box. Chapter 5: “Take a Giant Dump on the Other Person’s Desk While Staring Them Directly in the Eyes.”

    The funny thing is it’s working with North Korea for the time being.

    1. I just realized Trump is Cartman all grown up (the dump on your desk image sealed it).

      1. And he beat your savior Hillary and will be President for 8 years undoing everything that Obama accomplished. How does it feel to be a complete loser?

      2. Yes but it was too obvious for the South Park guys so they went with Mr. Garrison.

      3. I’d quibble with your “all grown up” part. Trump has the mentality of a two-year old. Tell him that no, he can’t have a big bowl of ice cream for dinner and he’s going to come at you swinging, screaming that he hates your guts and you’re the meanest person in the world. Tell him if he eats two bites of the meatloaf and a bite each of the mashed potatoes and the green beans and then he can have a scoop of ice cream and he’ll hug your leg and tell you he loves you and you’re the bestest person in the whole wide world.

        And like a two-year old he’s inordinately proud of any achievement he’s made and demands it be heralded as the greatest achievement ever in the history of the universe. And it doesn’t matter if the achievement is he’s managed to figure out how to tie his shoes all by himself or if he figured out how to hoist a cinder block atop the car and use it to smash out the windshield, he’s equally proud of either achievement and expects a well-deserved pat on the head.

        1. . Trump has the mentality of a two-year old.

          The guy has made and spent untold millions, gone through one model wife after another and is now President. So, we should all have such a mentality.

          You are not Tony or Shreek Jerry. You actually have a brain. If you don’t like Trump, good for you. But how can otherwise intelligent people say stupid shit like that?

          1. He inherited his life. He might have more money today had he simply invested his inheritance wisely (rather than playing tycoon).

            He has a string of business and personal failures.

            His children appear to be emulating him (family failures and cheating, business splash but not much verified success, never doing much on their own).

            If Donald Trump had been born to anything but great wealth; he’d be a high-end condo or car salesman with the same paunch and reputation; roughly the same inventory of bankruptcies, stiffed creditors, and ex-wives; and — believe it or not — even worse hair.

            1. And yet, he is President and there is nothing you can do about it. He is a winner and you are a loser. You are just a complete loser.

            2. Arty, you might also be a real human with an actual soul if you hadn’t heeded the communist call. Now all you are is an unclean vessel to deliver the most evil ideas in all of history.

              1. He would not be a real human. Stop exaggerating.

            3. He inherited a business he ran for his dad for a decade before inheriting.

              And he’d have as much money if he’d just invested in the stock market, if he had lived a frugal life in the meanwhile.

              Matching the stock market while spending on a lavish lifestyle requires beating the stock market.

            4. If Obama were not black, he would not have been editor of a law review.

              Nor would he have been President.

          2. Now do George Soros.

            1. He is a convicted felon and fraud and former Nazi collaborator.

              1. I said Soros, not Trump Sr.

                1. Soros was convicted of Fraud and admits to collaborating with the Nazis as a child. That is who he is.

                  1. Trump collaborates with neo-Nazis right now.

                    1. Tony, don’t you know that Trump, Sr. tried to hide his Germanic roots?

                      Don’t you know that he catered to the Jews? Look at the rent rolls in his apartments. He discriminated in favor of Jews and against negroes.

                    2. Tony, Trump is not collaborating with you and your friends (You do understand that you’re the nazis, right?).

                    3. He really doesn’t.

    2. It’s certainly an exciting time for new precedents with respect to presidential power. Presidents can clearly be impeached on obstruction of justice charges (because they have).

      Clinton lied UNDER OATH to the judiciary. A co-equal branch.

      Trump “obstructed” by asking the head of the FBI to go easy on the guy his own agents said was forthcoming in their interview with him.

      Yup, seem similar.

      1. So a crime at the level of perjury is impeachable? *Takes notes*

        The obstruction charge was about Clinton lying about having extramarital to friends and colleagues. I gather you believe that also rises to the level of impeachable offense?

        1. “”The obstruction charge was about Clinton lying about having extramarital to friends and colleagues.”

          Just friends and colleagues Tony?

          It is not obstruction to lie to friends and colleagues, or the whole friggin nation for that matter.

          1. I agree it was a rather flimsy case.

            1. It’s not even a flimsy case. It’s no case at all.

              But Congress can do what they will with it in relation to an impeachment.

              1. So flimsy it cost him his law license.

                1. Don’t totally remember but I don’t think obstruction was part of the trial in AR. Just the impeachment.

                  Tony’s claims was
                  “The obstruction charge was about Clinton lying about having extramarital to friends and colleagues”.

                  Do you really think Clinton lying to his friends and colleagues was the cause of the suspension of his law license?

                  1. Lying to your friends can be an element of obstruction of justice if you’re priming on what to say if they end up witnesses. But Clinton really got in trouble for lying to the court, under oath.

        2. The obstruction charge was about Clinton lying about having extramarital to friends and colleagues. I gather you believe that also rises to the level of impeachable offense?

          I’m sorry, what type of obstruction is OK to you?

          1. I don’t know what impeachable offenses are. Nobody really does exactly. But that’s precedent so obviously anyone who supported Clinton’s impeachment must support Trump’s, because the pussy he grabbed on the side isn’t even a speck compared to what he’s been up to.

            1. “I don’t know what impeachable offenses are. Nobody really does exactly.”

              High crimes and misdemeanors. It’s in the constitution. So I understand why it’s a mystery to you Tony. Like the way my marxist aunt things states have immigration powers, and gets upset when I explain that immigration is the sole province of the federal government as an enumerated power of congress. Then off to look it up so she can read it herself. Your kind hate things like that.

            2. Yes, the existing precedent is that if Trump lies under oath about something relevant to the legal proceeding he’s under oath about, or otherwise commits actual crimes, he can be impeached.

              Clinton wasn’t impeached over an affair. He was impeached over multiple instances of obstructing a civil sexual harassment trial of himself. Including perjury, subornation of perjury, intimidating witnesses, and destruction of evidence.

              I’d be the first person to say that, if you can prove Trump did those things, he can be impeached.

    3. Trump had authority overt the CIA and the Justice Department. I’m seriously naked how this obstruction thing has taken legs. How can a valid exercise of his Constitutional authority be obstruction? Trump could have said “Stop investigating Flynn” and that would have been legal. He could pardon Flynn and that would be legal. He could have ordered Justice to only bring some tiny infraction and drop any other charges and that would have been legal.

      Are we suggesting that there needs to be an attorney watchdog who reads the President’s mind and charges him if he was thinking mean thoughts while exercising his Constitutional authority? That seems stupid and impossible.

      1. “Naked” should say “baffled.” Swipe text is itself baffling at times

      2. The theory seems to be that DOJ and the FBI should be accountable to no one, including the person elected to run the executive. Nothing says libertarian like wanting an unaccountable national police force.

      3. “Trump could have said “Stop investigating…”

        Umm, didn’t BO do exactly that with Hezbollah?

      4. These are the same people who tried to indict Texas Governor Rick Perry for vetoing a bill.

  5. Even assuming that interceding with Comey on Flynn’s behalf or firing Comey could qualify as obstruction, proving corrupt intent is not as straightforward as it might seem.

    Trump intervened on behalf of Flynn because he had been told, correctly, that the FBI agents who did his interview thought he was telling the truth. So, we are now treated to the spectacle of a Libertarian magazine claiming that the President asking the FBI to drop a case against an innocent man is an impeachable offense. Words fail.

    1. Behold the era of WOKE Libertarianism.

      “Why don’t you go easy on this, you know, innocent guy?”

      “ARE YOU OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE, YOU DICTATORIAL SON OF A BITCH?!?”

      And still nothing about why, if Comey felt he was obstructing, he didn’t bring it to his superiors. As was law.

      All the past 18 months has shown is that Comey was unbelievably terrible at his job. Assuming his job was, you know, seeking justice.

      1. Because Comey is a sniveling, power-seeking pussy. I thought that was obvious by now.

    2. Flynn entered a guilty plea, you ignoramus. Trump tried to cover it up.

      1. Yes because he was facing bankruptcy. He pled guilty to avoid the legal fees of defending himself. He is almost certainly innocent you nasty little retard. Forcing people to plead guilty to things they didn’t do is what assholes at the DOJ like Mueller do.

        1. Isn’t it nice seeing Leftist “libertarians” applauding the state screwing over innocents? Makes their complaints about how unfair the police are to minorities all the more amusing given that they ADVOCATE doing precisely that to their rivals.

          1. Both of you lie.

            Flynn helped the Russians avoid sanctions then made a deal that the Trump team would relax those sanctions then lied to the FBI about it.

            He is guilty as Jeff Dahmer.

            1. Flynn helped the Russians avoid sanctions then made a deal that the Trump team would relax those sanctions then lied to the FBI about it.

              No. He met with the Russians as the President elects National Security advisor and did so with the knowledge and permission of the Obama Administration. And he did not get anything lifted. Trump wasn’t President yet, you lying sack of shit.

              You and Tony are incapable of telling the truth about anything.

            2. Flynn helped the Russians avoid sanctions then made a deal that the Trump team would relax those sanctions then lied to the FBI about it.

              No, he asked them to not over-react as the next administration will examine them and possibly (likely) change them. Because Hillary needs excuses.

              The FBI agents said he didn’t lie to them.

          2. Reason’s behavior on these issues has been appalling. They are incapable of acting with any objectivity or in accordance with any of their professed principles when it comes to Trump.

          3. And praising the fucking CIA and FBI. Seriously, these agencies have a long history of abusing any and all of their power and being completely unaccountable to anyone. Just look at Mueller or Comey’s career history pre-2016.

            1. The enemy of their enemy.

        2. He’s almost certainly innocent… because? That (R) after his name, right?

          People charged in these kinds of crimes do sometimes take plea deals even when innocent. So what do you suppose Mueller’s motive is in ruining this guy’s life when he didn’t do anything wrong?

          1. By these kinds I mean white-collar. Flynn’s stuff is pretty serious though.

          2. He was almost certainly innocent because the people he is accused of lying to don’t think he lied. God you are horrible.

            1. So was Trump lying about Flynn’s lying to Pence, his excuse for firing him?

              Are you talking about FBI investigators? Are they saying Flynn didn’t actually lie to them about his conversations with the Russian ambassador?

              1. Flynn didn’t lie to the FBI. That is the crime you want him to go to prison for you nasty half wit.

                1. Why did he say he did and ask God for forgiveness then?

                  My God that (R) goes a long way with you.

                  1. The funniest thing, Tony, is that you don’t realize how your entire string of comments reveals only how amazingly far that (R) actually goes with you.

                    You really are perfectly progressive

                    1. But I picked my team, among many other reasons, because they are far less vile and corrupt than Team (R). And it’s been that way my entire life.

                      People pick Team (R) because they’re racists or dupes of propaganda. There’s no real good reason to do so. Many horrified Republicans are saying that the Trump party means they no longer exist.

                      They are now a far-right nationalist party, which are always cancers on society. Unless you can name one that did any good.

                    2. Boy, when your definition of ‘racist’ includes around 50% of an entire nation one would think civil war would be inevitable…

                    3. They really do believe that aside from those who are unaccountably stupid half the nation is the epitome of evil.

                    4. I think I once commented that people who are invested in partisan politics thinks other people are too.

                      Tony, not everyone buys into the us vs them partisanship. I can tell over a period of months you can’t seem to understand that. You think just because they don’t agree with your team, they MUST be on the other team, therefore worthy of scorn. Your own words are the only proof I need.

                    5. Stop defending the clearly most corrupt presidential administration in history, probably past or future, and I won’t assume you have a partisan bent. It’s not like they’re being libertarian.

                    6. I’m not defending anyone. But your partisan mind can’t understand that. If I’m not agreeing with you, you think I’m defending the other team. You have poisoned your mind that you can’t think of anything outside of the binary.

                      What I am being is critical of a prosecutor that has a history of treating people like dirt. I, unlike you, would like to see serious prosecutorial reform. You can’t say you are for that kind of reform while supporting a scorched earth attitude against a sitting president, even if the president is Trump.

                  2. “Why did he say he did and ask God for forgiveness then?”

                    Why did the FBI agents say he didn’t?

                    There is at least a plausible explanation for Flynn’s plea.

      2. Why, anybody who pleads to things to reduce the costs or threats to family MUST be guilty. Even if Flynn beat the charges, it’d have cost him tens of millions to fight with no chance of recompensation.

        1. So he’s innocent and there’s no way to prove you wrong.

          I suspect you have many such beliefs.

          1. The FBI agents said he did not lie.

  6. While Comey said he interpreted the statement as an instruction, it was one he did not follow

    Second clause kinda contadicts the first.

    And given that the AGENTS felt Flynn was being forthcoming, the only problem is Comey et al STILL trying to prosecute a guy they ruled as being honest.

    1. “While Comey said he interpreted the statement as an instruction, it was one he did not follow”

      so Comey didn’t follow the instructions of his boss, reason enough to fire him there

      1. Indeed. Trump’s real mistake with Comey was taking so long about firing him. Ideally he should have announced Comey’s firing from the podium immediately after taking the oath of office.

  7. There was a consensus that Comey’s dubious decision making from 2016 to 2017 made him deserve being fired, until Trump fired him.

    1. ^^ Exactly

    2. Then he thought to himself, this Rusher thing…

    3. There’s still a consensus that votes weren’t tampered with or changed resulting in an unfair election against the will of the people. The only person to publicly doubt this to any effect, before, during, or after is Trump himself. It’s a literal investigation into the collusion to influence the will of the electorate in order to influence the will of the electorate. They don’t care how many Russians they have to interview, they’ll prove the Russians influenced the election.

      1. There’s already a consensus that Russia meddled in the election. Knowing whether they actually made Trump win would take mind-reading or at least serious research, but it’s hardly an outlandish assumption.

        The question isn’t whether that happened (Russians have already been indicted), it’s which Americans conspired with them to do it.

        1. “” They don’t care how many Russians they have to interview, they’ll prove the Russians influenced the election.””

          That’s not going to play out like you think.

          “”it’s which Americans conspired with them to do it.”‘

          Facebook. Now what’s your next move.

          1. Jared Kushner’s probably going to prison.

            1. No he is not. He is not guilty of anything.

              And Trump is going to be President for seven more years Tony. You don’t think he would pardon his son in law? God you are stupid.

              1. I think he’ll try.

                Kusher is the one who asked Flynn to talk to Russia in the first place.

                1. He won’t try it dipshit, he can do it. He is the President. Hillary lost.

                  1. Will you be happy about the president pardoning family members as if this were a shithole banana republic?

                    What if Obama did it?

            2. “”Jared Kushner’s probably going to prison.””

              Maybe, but not for election interference. Again with the red herring.

            3. Didn’t Kushner’s security clearance just get approved? Wouldn’t that suggest he’s not facing any charges?

              1. It did.

              2. There you go bringing facts into the discussion again, DoM6K. How many times have I told you not to do that?

        2. There’s already a consensus that Russia meddled in the election.

          No more than usual. And less than Obama did in re Israel.

      2. “” They don’t care how many Russians they have to interview, they’ll prove the Russians influenced the election.”‘

        Yeah, but that’s looking like it might backfire now that some of those Russian have pled not guilty and look forward to the discovery phase. I think it may be Mueller’s downfall. He can’t back out without it looking good, and I don’t think he really wants discovery to happen.

        1. You have absolutely no reason to be this definitive about things. Imagine everything was the same except the president had a (D) after his name. Still 100% skeptical of Bob Mueller’s investigation?

          1. Yes Vic would be. And so would you. That is because you are a fucking moron who has no principles or standards.

            1. Okay, guy with principles and standards, explain why Trump is a good president.

              I’ll give you $100 if you say “Because he trolls the libturds derp derp!”

              1. Trump is a good President because he supports the policies I support. And thanks to his reversing so many of Obama’s policies, more people have jobs today than at any time in the last 50 years. If you didn’t hate humanity, you would be happy about that.

              2. Trump is good because he kept Hillary out of office, can I have that $100

                1. Boom.

          2. “”Imagine everything was the same except the president had a (D) after his name. Still 100% skeptical of Bob Mueller’s investigation?””

            Yet another red herring.

            I wish Tony was a fisherman.

            He would hold the worlds record for most red herrings caught and could feed the world.

            1. I’m questioning your motives for being so skeptical of the special counsel. Can you do a thought experiment or no? Imagine everything was the same but Obama was the president.

              1. “”I’m questioning your motives for being so skeptical of the special counsel. Can you do a thought experiment or no? Imagine everything was the same but Obama was the president.””

                No, you are providing red herrings.

                I’m skeptical of every prosecutor. Not just Mueller. But I haven’t see any actual evidence at this time. I’ve seen innuendo, and claims made by unnamed sources.

                I’ve served in the Marine Corps. I take interference with the electoral process very seriously. But no one to this point has shown me any actual evidence of it. I have paid attention to the intel community when they have repeatedly said the vote count was not tampered with.

                I do not view Russians creating facebook memes as actionable interference anymore that I think liberals making memes about Britain voting to leave the EU was interfering with their electoral process. People, worldwide, should have the right to present their opinion on anything they want on social media. Anyone can create a meme. That should never be construed as interference.

                1. It was the Russian government with a motive to affect our election.

                  Believing in free speech requires believing that speech is not totally ineffective.

                  This is how countries compete. Thankfully it’s more benign than bombs, but it’s still an attempted undermining of the US system of government by way of exploiting social fractures.

                  All gravy?

                  1. “Believing in free speech requires believing that speech is not totally ineffective.”

                    Tony has more bone pills than he could use in a lifetime, but for some reason can’t stop ordering them.

                  2. Believing in free speech requires believing that speech is not totally ineffective.

                    Not all speech is of equal effectiveness. A handful of poorly translated ads that no one clicked on is not worth collectively shitting ourselves over.

                    1. Because none of us knows anybody who vomited divisive nonsense rhetoric during the 2016 campaign known to have been propagated by Russians. Certainly nobody on this site.

                    2. Exactly.

                      I saw a friend post “Hillary’s a Criminal, so vote Trump!” And that’s just what the Russians were saying!

                      That’s how I know that the Russians hacked our democracy. Essentially, propaganda works, or else it wouldn’t exist, therefore, everything I think about Russian trolls is true, and you’ll never convince me otherwise. QED.

                    3. Ironically, Russia funded some of the large early Trump protests.

                      How does it feel to be a Russian puppet, Tony?

              2. I’m questioning your motives for being so skeptical of the special counsel.

                WHY NOBODY ON THE LEFT CRITICIZED KEN STARR, DID THEY?? – Tony.

          3. “”You have absolutely no reason to be this definitive about things””

            I would not say I’m very definitive about it. But I do wonder if you have actually been paying attention to what is going on with the Russians that were charged. Some have actually had lawyers plead not guilty. Mueller, caught off guard has asked the court to delay the trial indefinitely, which the judge denied.

            So Mueller has three options that I can see. 1. Proceed with the case, and allow discovery. 2. Drop the charges hoping he can recharge (judge might not allow that) 3. Proceed with the case but drag his feet at every option.

            #1 is what you do when you are ready for trial. So I’m thinking Mueller will go with 2 or 3. Which will make his case look weak and will not look good in the court of public opinion.

          4. Absofuckinglutely.

  8. It would be absurd for the president to be able to pardon himself. He could commit any crime he wanted without penalty, and even avoid impeachment by arresting/killing members of congress. It would effectively make him a dictator if he wanted to be. There is no way the the Supreme Court would allow him to pardon himself.

    “No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.”
    James Madison, The Federalist Papers: No. 10

    1. I think the logic is that the President would be impeached and/or out of office before charges are brought. Otherwise, he could just shut down the prosecution.

      1. Exactly. Same as if the crime was committed by the Attorney General. You couldn’t realistically expect an underling to prosecute him, so the remedy is removal then prosecution.

      2. The president would be able to stop an impeachment by preventing Congress from taking action, and then pardoning himself.

        James Madison made it clear that the authors of the constitution did not intend to give the president the power to pardon himself.

        I can’t believe that the Supreme Court or Congress would ever be stupid enough to agree to allow the president to pardon himself. He could make some flimsy excuse to arrest them if they didn’t do what he wanted, and they would be powerless to stop him.

        I would prefer that the sole recourse to the presidents abuse of his power was not revolution.

        1. How would the President prevent Congress from taking action? That makes no sense.

          In the absence of an express statement in the Constitution, I read the pardon power as near absolute (and also non-reviewable). As a practical matter, the question of whether the President can impeach himself is nonsense on its face, as it would first require the President to first bring charges against himself, etc. It doesn’t really matter.

          1. “How would the President prevent Congress from taking action? That makes no sense.”

            If Trump had members of Congress arrested to prevent them from impeaching him.

            There may be not explicit statement in the constitution preventing the president from pardoning himself, but Madison made it clear that was not their intent to give the president that power. Since it had been a long established principle of common law that no one could be his own judge, it is absurd to believe that the framers of the constitution meant to make the president above the law.

            1. “There may be not explicit statement in the constitution preventing the president from pardoning himself, but Madison made it clear that was not their intent”

              What they meant, and what they wrote are two different questions.

              It reminds me of the story of the lawyer who complains the other side didn’t turn over certain materials he wanted. When opposing counsel points out his discovery motion was badly drafted, the judge informs counsel he should learn to write better motions.

              Intent matters, but not at the expense of language.

            2. Just so we’re clear: in your scenario, the President is going around arresting members of Congress and the Supreme Court on flimsy pretenses to prevent them from executing their constitutional authority, and the only thing that will stop him is being arrested by the same Justice department that is arresting everyone else on his order, combined with the inability to pardon himself?

              Yeah, ya got me. I don’t know.

              1. I’m pretty sure there’s something else that could stop him. All it takes in that case is one Secret Service agent or Marine with access to the President, saying to himself, “My oath to the Constitution is more important than my job/life, and if I act decisively to protect the Constitution, I might get lucky and be judged a hero afterwards.”

                1. And of course, to even get to the point where my scenario even becomes possible, Trump has to somehow put together a Constitution-ignoring arrest team – the unlikelihood of which has already been pointed out by others.

            3. There may be not explicit statement in the constitution preventing the president from pardoning himself, but Madison made it clear that was not their intent to give the president that power.

              Madison’s opinion is completely irrelevant here. His personal intent was not passed by Congress nor submitted to the states for ratification.

              In this case, it’s not even an obscure loophole. They inserted language to deal with potential conflicts of interest in other areas (e.g. the VP presides over impeachment trials for all officials except the person whose removal would benefit him) so why not the pardon power, if that was truly their intent?

              1. The Madison quote is actually a no-sequitur unless you are willing to accept his premise that Trump is going to stage a coup.

            4. “If Trump had members of Congress arrested to prevent them from impeaching him.”

              The Constitution explicitly prohibits exactly that. Members of Congress can’t legally be prevented from attending a session. So at this point you’re arguing that a President could avoid being impeached by conducting a military coup. I suppose that would be true if it were successful, but at this point we’re out of legal territory and into armed revolution territory.

            5. “If Trump had members of Congress arrested to prevent them from impeaching him.”

              People are really unhinged by Trump.

              Exactly which cadre of Federal stormtroopers would carry out these arrests? The FBI? The Marshalls?

              Where would they hold them?

              This is, quite frankly, tinfoil hat territory.

              Hihn isn’t this divorced from reality.

        2. I can’t believe that the Supreme Court or Congress would ever be stupid enough to agree to allow the president to pardon himself. He could make some flimsy excuse to arrest them if they didn’t do what he wanted, and they would be powerless to stop him.

          This is also nonsense. The President doesn’t need agreement from the other branches to pardon. That power is delegated exclusively to the executive. Also, even in jail, a judge remains a judge until impeached. See Walter Nixon.

    2. Impeachment is the sole exception to the pardon power. Which otherwise is plenary. A President can indeed pardon himself.

      Whether one ever would is another matter.

    3. The constitution gives the pardon power without any limits. Absurd or not, that’s what the Constitution says. Federalist Papers were not passed by Congress or ratified by the states, so they have no legal standing. Yes, the courts do turn to them when the intent is ambiguous (which is bullshit) but there is absolutely no ambiguity about the pardon power’s reach.

      He could commit any crime he wanted without penalty, and even avoid impeachment by arresting/killing members of congress.

      If he’s willing and able to commit egregious acts like that, he wouldn’t have any reason to bother with pardoning himself.

  9. The travisty of justice that Trump represents gives me constant, mind-blowing diarreah all the time! There’s no way he sould remain president while being actively investigated for colluding with Russian Facebook Trollz to steal our democracy!

    I am so farging angry I am shitting myself right now!

    1. The pleather should be ok, but the lining is going to need dry cleaning.

  10. Why is Russian collusion any more problmatic than media collusion.

    Should not those who were responsible for releasing thst Access Hollywood tape be tried for interfering with the election?

    1. This “controversy” persists because people largely divide into three groups.

      The first are just plain ignorant of how our government operates, how these issues are addressed, and how they have historically been addressed. Largely this is people under the age of about 35.

      The second group is those who should know better. The people who were around, or could have learned well about the Nixon, and Clinton affairs.

      The third group is those who do know better, but who choose to play ignorant because it suits their agenda.

      That group three consists of large swathes of the media helps explain why group one is so large.

      1. …group three consists of large swathes of the media and academia

  11. Here in Seattle we have a nasty legacy memory from the Japanese internment policies of 1941 to 1945. Thus we tend to know a bit more about this subject, which reminded me of a curious factoid from when it came time to release the 120,000 Japanese who had been interned. Two questions were asked of each person being released: Do you renounce allegiance to the Emperor of Japan, and do you swear allegiance to the President of the USA?

    Apparently this was the start of our imperial presidency! Curiously, 17,000 of the interned Japanese (who became known as the no-no boys) answered no to both questions, out of cultural stubbornness or maybe just orneriness because of the way they had been treated. At any rate, it soon became obvious the answers would make no difference and most Japanese Americans resumed racing to success in every endeavor that suited them. Some eventually received trivial reparations for the tremendous wealth stolen from them by our government.

    Another little-known fact–thousands of fishing boats were confiscated by Canada and Chile from Japanese who had long resided in those lands and those people were shipped to the USA for incarceration.

  12. Mueller should just obtain a subpoena to question Trump before a grand jury.

    Then all of the questions about the president’s power to stop or shutdown the investigation and Trump’s assertion of being immune to investigation and indictment could be settled once and for all before the Supreme Court.

    1. A subpoena. Genius.

      What court, exactly would issue such subpoena? Every court other than SCOTUS is part of the Executive branch.

      Grandstanding judges in Hawaii don’t mind jerking Trumps chain on other issues, because they are not personally humiliated and excoriated when their out of bounds actions get squashed. Issue a subpoena and you’ll have a rehash of the whole Clinton situation (not exactly something the Dems want brought up right now.)

      Because while yes, Ken Starr did subpoena a President, Clinton chose to negotiate with them over the terms of his grand jury appearance instead.

      Negotiate.

      If you are subpoenaed, and you can negotiate, it’s not really a subpoena. At least not a valid or enforceable one.

      The subpoena was subsequently withdrawn,

      Imagine that happening again. The left would be crushed, and go even more nuts.

      1. “Every court other than SCOTUS is part of the Executive branch.”

        News to me. The lesser courts may be created per statute, but they’re authorized in Article 3, not Article 2, and all exercise the “judicial” power.

        There are quasi-judicial “article 2 courts” run by the regulatory agencies, which are part of the executive branch, but frankly they’re of dubious constitutionality.

  13. 1. The Democrats won’t have the votes to convict Trump in the Senate (they need 67, not 60 votes), so impeaching him would be pointless and make them look like idiots when they don’t get the conviction.

    2. Impeachment and removal wouldn’t “undo the election”. Hillary Clinton would not become president, Mike Pence would (barring some contrived scenario where he is no longer VP). I can’t imagine the Dems preferring Pence as president to Trump as president.

    3. Therefore, I must conclude that the Dems are just using “impeachment” as a rallying cry to get the base to turn out in November. Much like they used ending the Iraq War to turn out the base in 2006 and 2008 but then forgot to do it once in office, and like the GOP used repealing Obamacare to turn out the base 2010-2016 before discovering they didn’t really mind BO-care after all.

  14. Lol. Keep hoping Chucky and Davey, keep hoping.

  15. “The initial explanation for firing Comey?his unfairness to Hillary Clinton in the way he handled the investigation of her email practices as secretary of state?was hard to buy given that Trump had always complained that she got off too easily. ”

    Are you dense? “Getting off too easy” is just as much unfairness as being persecuted. She should have gotten a bog standard investigation, in no way tilted against her OR in her favor.

    1. Instead Comey conducted a whitewash of her, at Lynch’s orders, and then tried to make up for it by using a press conference to make clear she was, none the less, a bad person.

      Neither fish nor fowl, he didn’t have the courage to just be another co-conspirator, and didn’t have the courage to do the right thing and conduct a real investigation. He tried to split the difference, so both sides despised him.

  16. Good grief. Trump is bringing out his troop of angels to dance on a pinhead. All this parsing of what Trump’s intentions were is silly because now we know much more than we did in May of 2017. We now know that Trump was lying about a lot. He knew the tower meeting was not about adoptions. That there should bring pause to everyone. He knew folks. He was straight up lying because he wanted to, at the very least, not let anyone know about the heavy appearance of corruption. Even if he is innocent and the Russians did not hack Clinton and even if he did not collude, he lied to avoid looking like he colluded. That’s no small thing. And that’s just one tiny slice of all the lies he is involved in. So why are we arguing all this legal nuance? Why carry water for this idiot. Trump should resign now.

    1. He knew the tower meeting was not about adoptions.

      The one where no info was exchanged and Trump Jr left within minutes? That meeting?

      Take off the tin hat, son.

  17. Yawn if democrats win the house they won’t impeach anymore than republicans would repeal Obamacare when they won the majority. All just fire up the fund raising and get back to the establishment as usual politics. Trump for whatever you think of him is a brilliant politician. He controls the news cycle, sends the opposition off on stupid conjecture about whether he can pardon himself from nothing that can be found.

    We are a stupid short sighted public with a “there’s a squirrel” attention span to real issues.

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