Election 2020

Bill Weld: Trump's Obstruction 'Goes Well Beyond Anything President Richard Nixon Ever Did'

With the Mueller report scaring off other GOP challengers, the special prosecutor's former boss calls on the president to resign, raises "millions," and continues to get drubbed in the polls.


A Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of 394 likely New Hampshire Republican voters released Tuesday is showing more bad news for GOP challenger Bill Weld in his own backyard: 72.3 percent favor President Donald Trump, while just 16.5 percent back the former two-term governor of Massachusetts. When fence-sitters John Kasich and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan are thrown in, Weld slips to third place behind the CNN commentator, 7.9 percent to Kasich's 9.1, more than 60 percentage points behind the incumbent.

Like many of Trump's most fervent political opponents, Kasich and Hogan had been hoping that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would dramatically alter the political landscape, giving them an opening against an otherwise overwhelming favorite busy stacking his party's deck. Well, so much for that. The official Hogan position these days is "seriously considering" but needs to see a "path to victory"; meanwhile, Kasich hype man John Weaver keeps hyping every new some-conservatives-don't-like-Trump poll, as his meal ticket gets paid for repeating on CNN that "all of my options remain on the table."

Weld, who told me in late February that "I'm not waiting to see what happens with the Mueller investigation, because I know all I need to know about the rule of law," has since his April 15 official announcement been ratcheting up his Trump/Russia criticism, while fundraising, he claims, is "in the millions.""It's time for Trump to resign," he wrote last week for the NeverTrumpers over at The Bulwark (whose founder Bill Kristol, meanwhile, keeps pining for Nikki Haley to jump into the race).

Weld hired Robert Mueller in 1990 as his deputy at the Justice Department (fun fact: Mueller's only reported political contribution was to Weld's losing Senate race against John Kerry back in the '90s). So I asked him while guest-hosting Sirius XM Insight's Stand UP! with Pete Dominick last Thursday what (if any) special insights he has on the special counsel's work.

"I think the whole conspiracy with Russia issue is gone," Weld said. "Mueller is a very thorough prosecutor, found no evidence of that. If he didn't find any evidence of that, that didn't happen." However: "He didn't say Trump is guilty of obstruction, [but] he puts out all the evidence." More:

I can tell you, it's very obvious that the evidence goes well beyond what's required to charge the president with obstruction of justice. It goes well beyond anything President Richard Nixon ever did. What the Mueller report says at the end of Volume Two is, we would have liked to have come to a conclusion that the president is not guilty of obstruction of justice, but we were unable to come to that view. They didn't pull the trigger, because they thought they couldn't charge the president. If you read Volume Two, it's very clear that the president committed the offense of obstruction of justice.

I asked Weld to address the objection that obstruction is a dubious charge when, unlike in the case of the Watergate burglary, there is no underlying crime. "Well, that's not the law," he said. More:

I realize that's the theory advanced by Bill Barr, now Attorney General Barr, in his June 2018 19-page memo for the president's eyes, which wound up with him getting selected to be attorney general. … It's as though he never read United States vs. Nixon, the summer of 1974 case, decided unanimously by an eight to nothing Supreme Court, saying, "Nixon, you've got to turn over those tapes in response to the subpoena, or you're going to be guilty of contempt of Congress."

Nixon, as I've said, had self-awareness and a sense of shame, whatever you want to call it. He turned them over right away. He resigned August 9th; I think that opinion was July 24th or something like that. That was a huge earthquake around the Supreme Court's holding, that the president is not above the law. Part of their rationale was that this is pursuant to a legitimate criminal inquiry, there was some evidence, etc. etc. In other words, they went into exactly the sort of thing that Mr. Barr says you can't go into. He says, once the president does something, you can't examine the motivations or the circumstances surrounding it. It's just pure executive power. You can't even cross examine him on that.

Weld's bottom line: "Mueller showed obstructive acts. He recited enough to show corrupt intent as well. That's all there. The only thing that stopped him was this internal Justice Department opinion from 20 years ago. I would not have relied on that myself."