Trump's Bizarre Meeting With Corey Lewandowski Suggests a Consciousness of Guilt

Again and again, the president tried to interfere with the Mueller investigation in a roundabout way.


Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski confirmed a bizarre episode described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's March report on Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. On June 17, 2017, according to the report, Lewandowski had a one-on-one meeting with Trump in which the president dictated a message for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking him to publicly state that the Russia investigation was "very unfair" to Trump, who had done nothing wrong. The message also asked Sessions to tell Mueller that his investigation should focus on the threat of Russian meddling in "future elections."

One reading of that encounter is that Trump was trying to obstruct an investigation of his own attempts at obstruction, since such allegations were part of Mueller's charge. Another interpretation—the one endorsed by Attorney General William Barr before he took office and by Lewandowski yesterday—is that there was nothing inappropriate or illegal about Trump's arm's-length overture to Sessions, since the president is ultimately in charge of the Justice Department and can tell it to start, expand, narrow, or end investigations whenever he likes. But that take on the president's powers, which Mueller explicitly rejected, is hard to reconcile with Trump's furtive behavior.

"Didn't you think it was a little strange that the president would sit down with you, one on one, and ask you to do something that you knew was against the law?" Rep. Steve Cohen (D–Tenn.) asked Lewandowski.

"I disagree with the premise of your question, Congressman," Lewandowski replied. "I didn't think the president asked me to do anything illegal."

That much is consistent with the view that the president, regardless of his motives, cannot commit obstruction of justice by exercising his constitutional authority over executive-branch agencies. In an unsolicited memo that he sent the Justice Department before Trump picked him to replace Sessions, Barr conceded that the president can commit obstruction through "bad acts" such as destroying evidence or encouraging witnesses to lie. But he argued that the federal obstruction statutes do not reach "facially lawful actions taken by the President in exercising the discretion vested in him by the Constitution."

But if that is what Trump believed, why didn't he talk directly to Sessions? Why enlist a crony with no official role in the administration to deliver a message that Trump could have delivered on his own?

It's possible that Trump did not think there was "anything illegal" about trying to limit Mueller's investigation but recognized that such interference would look bad. Yet it looks bad for the same reasons it looks like obstruction, even if (accepting Barr's theory) it does not satisfy the elements of that crime.

Trump has publicly acknowledged that presidents, by longstanding practice, strive to respect the Justice Department's autonomy in investigating and prosecuting people. "The saddest thing is that because I'm the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department," Trump said in a November 2017 radio interview. "I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI."

That norm is aimed at avoiding the appearance that the president is meddling in law enforcement matters for personal or political reasons, a danger that is especially acute when the president himself is the subject of an investigation. Such abuses of power, even if they are technically legal, nevertheless might qualify as "high crimes or misdemeanors" justifying impeachment.

In addition to the Lewandowski gambit, the Mueller report describes several episodes in which Trump tried to influence, limit, or stop the Russia investigation, including his repeated attempts to have Mueller fired and to have Sessions, who had recused himself, take control. Those maneuvers were generally unsuccessful, mainly because Trump's subordinates defied his wishes. They clearly thought there was something wrong with his efforts to curtail Mueller's investigation. White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign if Trump insisted on firing Mueller, saying he did not want to participate in a repeat of Richard Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre.

Trump himself seemed to understand he was doing something wrong, judging from his roundabout approach. If he was merely exercising his lawful powers in a perfectly proper way, for example, he could have directly instructed Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, rather than complaining to his aides about the special counsel's supposed conflicts of interest and asking McGahn to tell Rosenstein that Mueller had to go. As with the message for Sessions that he dictated to Lewandowski, Trump's sneakiness suggests consciousness of guilt—not necessarily legal guilt (again, if you accept Barr's theory) but certainly an awareness that there was something unseemly about all of this.

Rep. Justin Amash (I–Mich.), who was briefly the only Republican member of Congress to publicly say that Trump's was guilty of "impeachable conduct" ("briefly" because Amash left the party, not because he changed his mind), correctly noted that "high crimes and misdemeanors" extend beyond provable statutory violations to abuses of power that betray the public trust. Trump's own lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, last year conceded that it "would just be unthinkable" for Trump to pardon himself, which "would lead to probably an immediate impeachment," even though the Constitution imposes no limits on the pardon power. The question of whether the president did "anything illegal," while relevant, is only part of the debate about whether he abused his powers egregiously enough to justify impeachment.

NEXT: John Bolton Is Mad That Trump Wouldn't Let Him Bomb Iran

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  1. “Trump’s Bizarre Meeting With Corey Lewandowski Suggests a Consciousness of Guilt”

    Reason’s support for (limited) coercive monopoly government suggest a consciousness of guilt in its false claim to support Freedom of Association.

    1. Another day, another Tony sock obsessing about gross shit in his political opponents mouths.

      I’m starting to worry that as he sits there laughing hysterically at his computer while rocking back and forth repeatedly in his group home, he’s gonna choke to death on the snot dripping out of his nose, or the drool from his mouth.

      1. By ‘group home’ do you mean San Francisco bathhouse?

        1. Could be. But then I’d have to stoop to his level and assume he’d be chocking to death on someone else’s bodily fluids. So I’m sticking with group home for now.

  2. No because Reason’s support only extends to the retaliatory use of force.

  3. The Democrats have ordered an Impeachment Kit from the Acme Corporation. This will settle Trump’s hash once and for all!

    1. It’s probably rusty and full of vapors, since it’s been ready for use since time immemorial but only dusted off poorly for the Clinton impeachment.

      1. Oh look… a Trumpian employing a whataboutism. That’s about all you’ve got left.

        1. Still terrible at this.

        2. If I were a Trumpian, wouldn’t that be about all I’ve got right?

        3. The record for impeachment of sitting presidents for the entire history of the US stands at 2 bills issued, 0 convictions by the Senate.

          Personally, I say let the Democrats tie up the House in futile attempts to impeach Trump. The probability that Trump would be convicted on anything the Democrats have floated so far a a basis for impeachment is 0.0%.

          If trump loses the election in 2020, impeachment becomes moot. If he is re-elected, odds favor the Republicans maintaining control of the Senate and impeachment will remain futile.

    2. No impeachment. A win at the polls, followed by investigations, charges, prosecutions, and incarcerations.

      1. “incarcerations”

        At which time your political opponents get orally (at least!) raped, amiright!

      2. I don’t understand – how can someone behave badly enough in office as to deserve prison, yet avoid committing impeachable offenses?

        Isn’t it your Democratic friends who are the true patriots here, hunting up impeachable offenses regardless of temporary popularity?

      3. That’s something Arty might now about. Although his day job is emptying the trash for a wealthy conservative business owner, Arty moonlights as a glory hole attendant.

        1. Even as a glory hole attendant, i’m afraid he’s biting off more than he can chew.

  4. “Again and again, the president tried to interfere with the Mueller investigation in a roundabout way.”

    BUT obstruction of justice is a law that inherently requires a criminal ACTION which
    has never never found !

    1. This article is devoid of intelligent thought. Trump could have legally ended the investigation at any point. He can switch out his AG at any point. Thos article assumes animus from trump not using his powers.

      If trump is innocent, why does he want an investigation into his presidency which reduces his powers and causes excess time doing his job? Sullum says this is only a possible reaction if guilty. That’s because Sullum is an idiot.

      Comey was telling trump the entire time he wasnt under investigation. Trump merely wanted what was said in private to be said publicly. Full stop. The investigation narrative was a huge distraction and utilized immense resources as trump couldnt focus on his agenda. That was the entire point from the left.

      Sullum is fucking stupid.

      1. Hahahahaha… you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Dump sends his aide over to tell Jeff Sessions to end his investigation into corruption that he’s involved with and Trumpian goons are just fine with that!

        Hey, uh, can you tell the DA to drop the case because i’m Totally not guilty of killing my wife and I don’t want to waste my time? Good luck.

        1. “Hahahahaha… you’ve got to be fucking kidding me….”

          There’s no reason to kid you; you’re a fucking ignoramus too stupid to understand what’s posted here.
          Fuck off and die.

          1. Don’t you have some Vietcong to shoot, Trumpian?

            1. So bad that you’ve resorted to nonsense. So terrible.

              1. No, pretty much predictable.

        2. Still terrible.

        3. Except in this case (to continue the analogy), Trump wasn’t guilty of killing his wife, he knew he wasn’t guilty, and it irked the hell ot of him that his own Justice Department was wasting time (theirs and his) and resources (the public’s) to find out whether he was guilty–a question he already knew the answer to.

          1. Yes, in order to have obstruction one must be trying to avoid penalties. Trump knew there were not legal penalties to avoid, so he could NEVER commit obstruction in this case.

          2. But you need to phrase it like this–

            Except in this case (to continue the analogy), Trump wasn’t guilty of killing his wife–because she was standing right there next to him, and every Democrat and leftist in the room was muttering about how ‘they’d get her next time.’ and it irked the hell out of him that his own Justice Department was wasting time (theirs and his) and resources (the public’s) to find out whether he was guilty–a question he already knew the answer to.

      2. I’ll have to second the “you have got to be fucking kidding me.”

      3. Can’t wait for the report on the FISA abuse that shows the entire Mueller investigation was based on garbage and a violation of Constitutional rights starting with Carter Page.

    2. Trump could’ve also STOPPED the investigation cold.

      He did not.

      Ergo, no interference.

  5. You’ll never stop flogging that dead horse will you?

    1. Should we contact PETA to protect Reason for such blatant animal cruelty? Even if dead, it deserves better than this.

    2. This article is an embarrassment to libertarianism. It will not age well.

  6. There’s very little “Reason” in this article. By your own account, Trump’s advisors kept him from doing anything illegal. He followed their sound advice.

  7. There is nothing here. Nothing substantial in the Mueller report, nothing at all in House judiciary testimony, and nothing except whisper campaigns and ghosts. Let us acknowledge what this was, a defeated party suddenly out of power looking for revenge, and a new president who knows nothing about the office he took over and what the limits and constraints of executive power really are. Go ahead and impeach all you want. The reality is if you cannot win enough ballots separately in each state, then you will not be president.

    For whatever it is worth, Trump is a disaster of a human being in many ways. But he and a republican Senate have managed to push through a lot of judicial nominations that were languishing. And he had his bureaucracy start dismantling the abortion of regulations promulgated by the disaster of the Obama regime. That is worth four years of strangeness. Sure the next asshole in the White House might push these regs back. But then a judiciary of constitutionalists can block it. I wish for a better president who has libertarian and moral characteristics. But I do not wish for the nonsense of stalinist democratic socialists.

    1. Nothing substantial in the Mueller report

      Lies and bullshit from the usual suspects.

      Obstructive act (p. 43): Trump asked for Comey’s loyalty and pressured Comey to “let this go” regarding the FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. “In analyzing whether these statements constitute an obstructive act, a threshold question is whether Comey’s account of the interaction is accurate, and, if so, whether the President’s statements had the tendency to impede the administration of justice by shutting down an inquiry that could result in a grand jury investigation and criminal charge.” “[S]ubstantial evidence corroborates Comey’s account.”

      Nexus (p. 46): By the time Trump spoke to Comey, Trump had been informed that Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI and that his statements could violate 18 U.S.C. § 1001, the prohibition on lying to federal investigators. “[T]he President’s instruction to the FBI Director to ‘let[] Flynn go’ suggests his awareness that Flynn could face criminal exposure for his conduct and was at risk of prosecution.”

      Intent: “[E]vidence is inconclusive” as to whether Trump was aware of Flynn’s calls with Kislyak when they occurred. But “[e]vidence does establish that the President connected the Flynn investigation to the FBI’s broader Russia investigation.”

      Trump attempted to have Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland “draft an internal email” stating that Trump did not ask Flynn to discuss sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, which McFarland did not do because she was not sure if the statement would be accurate. Though “evidence does not establish” that Trump was trying to make McFarland lie, the incident “highlights the President’s concern about being associated with Flynn’s conduct,” and McFarland was disturbed by the request and felt it was “irregular.”

      Hey, you know what we call that? A process crime. Hahaha… LOL… these GOP cranks are the funniest thing ever. Don’t change.

      1. Terrible. So much practice but no improvement.

        1. Tell me more about process crimes, shill.

          1. Tell somebody who cares how your TDS is affecting you.

          2. If you were a serious commenter and not attempting a terrible persona I’d help educate you. But you’re terrible at this.

            1. Oh, never mind… it’s something GOP shills like you pulled out of your arse.

              If the president’s Republican allies were going to defend him from developments like these, they’d need to get creative. Evidently, they came up with a new thing at which to scoff: “process crimes.”

              Some Republicans, like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, said Cohen’s admission doesn’t prove collusion between Russia and the president. […]

              Graham, who has emerged as one of Trump’s fiercest defenders, said he had “no idea what that’s all about” when asked his reaction to Cohen’s guilty plea, adding that it “seems to be a process crime.”

              Soon after, Rush Limbaugh complained, “Every one of Mueller’s indictments is a process crime.”

              As TPM reported, Michael Anton, former spokesman for Trump’s National Security Council, also lashed out at Mueller’s team for pursuing a “process” crime.

              1. Still terrible. My god. Cant even luck your way into an intelligent post.

                1. He’s awful at this. So boring.

              2. LeaveTrumpAloneLibertarian
                September.18.2019 at 9:22 pm
                “Oh, never mind… it’s something GOP shills like you pulled out of your arse.”

                Tell somebody who cares how your TDS is affecting you.

    2. The only thing you get wrong is the ‘party out of power’s aspect. The effort to get Trump included acts orchestrated by the top of the Obama administration, including use of covert government agents.

  8. Trump’s Bizarre Meeting With Corey Lewandowski Suggests a Consciousness of Guilt

    Alternative explanation: Trump’s a petty, thin-skinned, whiny little bitch with a massive but fragile ego. If he openly demands that Sessions issue a statement and Sessions – as he almost certainly would have – refuses to issue such a statement, Donnie-boy is going to look like a fool for letting his underlings disrespect him like that. If he sends the message through an intermediary, under the same scenario, he can simply deny he ever sent any such message, but by God you bet your ass if he did Sessions certainly would have done as he was told because nobody refuses to do what Donald J Trump tells them to do. People know Trump is not a man to be trifled with. And if Sessions did do as Trump asked, well, Trump would have taken the credit and boasted about how he’s the sort of manly man with whom you do not trifle – by God, when Donald J Trump gives an order, people do as they’re told.

    Know how I know this? Because Trump had Rod Rosenstein draw up a memo justifying firing James Comey because Trump wasn’t sure he could actually fire Comey. Rod Rosenstein did draw up a memo justifying firing Comey based on Comey’s mishandling of the Clinton investigation – but as soon as the press started reporting that Rosenstein was the man behind Comey’s firing and that Comey was fired over the Clinton investigation, Trump just had to jump up on the table and start screaming that Rosenstein was a fucking pissant nobody and it was he, the mighty and fearless Donald J Trump who actually fired Comey and he was fired over his fucking with Donald J Trump with the Russia thing.

    You see the parallels between Lewandowski and Rosenstein and Sessions and Comey and Trump’s uncertainty over whether or not he could actually do what he wanted to do and yet could not and would not ever admit to such uncertainty?

    And all Trump had to do was keep his mouth shut and, for this one little thing, allow Rod Rosenstein to take the credit for firing Comey and none of this Russia investigation would ever have happened. But Trump couldn’t do it. Because he’s a petty, thin-skinned, whiny little bitch with a massive but fragile ego and it’s simply not in him to allow somebody else to take credit for something he can easily seize credit for. John Bolton can tell you just how petty Trump is – I don’t doubt for a single second that Bolton tendered his resignation and Trump refused it simply for the sake of jumping on the Twitters and announcing he had fired Bolton, Trump’s done it before.

    1. Jerryskids
      September.18.2019 at 7:24 pm
      “…Know how I know this?…”

      Yes. And advanced case of TDS.
      Grow up.

    2. Not an unreasonable opinion. And yet there is nothing more than Trump being a whiny little bitch to complain about. A big nothingburger, as you so clearly pointed out.

  9. I didn’t realize OBL was writing entire articles for Reason now.

  10. What a fucking joke of an article.

    1. When Sullum hit bottom, he really started digging with gusto.

  11. ^ Once again, read the sensible and honest position of the article and then read the GOP shitposts in the comments and simply take a moment—- Ommm…Ommmm…Ommm— to notice the difference

    1. Consistently terrible.

  12. “He must be guilty because he acts like he’s guilty” is the most libertarian standard of justice ever.

    Did you even read this article before hitting “post”, Sullum?

    1. Hey look, retard doesn’t understand the concept of criminal intent. Jesus Fucking Christ, the flowing river of bullshit from these GOP shills is threatening to burst the dam at any minute.

      1. Criminal intent only applies if there was a crime committed. Just because some people think you are acting suspiciously doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.

        I look forward to reading Sullum’s response to the next high-profile incident where the cops taze, pepper spray, and arrest some poor teenager just because he ran from them.

        I mean, his actions suggested a “consciousness of guilt” so he must have done SOMETHING wrong.

        1. Oh look, shill uses completely bizarre and pointless hypothetical to excuse Dump’s obstruction of justice.

          1. Always terrible. This is just sad.

  13. How dare this writer contradict all the GOP asskissers in the comments. I’m ripping up my subscription and going over to Breitfart where the real libertarians are. This site sucks.

    1. Promises promises.

  14. Jacob, you’re an imbecile.


    Obstructive act (p. 87): Former White House Counsel Don McGahn is a “credible witness” in providing evidence that Trump indeed attempted to fire Mueller. This “would qualify as an obstructive act” if the firing “would naturally obstruct the investigation and any grand jury proceedings that might flow from the inquiry.”

    Nexus (p. 89): “Substantial evidence” indicates that, at this point, Trump was aware that “his conduct was under investigation by a federal prosecutor who could present any evidence of federal crimes to a grand jury.”

    Intent (p. 89): “Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel’s oversight of investigations that involved the President’s conduct[.]”

    1. Pick them cherries, you fucking lefty ignoramus.

      1. A crime is a crime you unwashed hillbilly.

        1. Omg get Obama’s dick that’s got Hillary’s shit on it cuz he just pulled it out of her ass out of your mouth!

    2. This is what is wrong with Mueller’s argument. Trump is head of the executive. Mueller’s investigation fell under the executive branch. As such, Trump could have ended the investigation and fired Mueller any time he wanted. He did not need to ask any of his staff.
      With this in mind, Trump did not do so, nor did he at any time even attempt to restrict the scope of the investigation despite the fact Rosenstein kept expanding it.
      Therefore, there is NO obstruction of justice, and simply wanting to or even talking about how pissed off you are regarding the investigation does not constitute a crime.
      Even if he had ended the investigation, it was within his power to do so, so even then there would have been no crime. At any time he could have assigned a new AG with orders to reign Mueller in. He did not even do this.
      So where the fuck is the obstruction here

      1. The obstruction is in Donkeys’ fetid imaginations.

    3. Obstructive act (p. 87): Former White House Counsel Don McGahn is a “credible witness” in providing evidence that Trump indeed attempted to fire Mueller. This “would qualify as an obstructive act” if the firing “would naturally obstruct the investigation and any grand jury proceedings that might flow from the inquiry.”

      He didn’t fire Mueller, so what is your point?

      1. Mueller testimony was evidence that Mueller was not an important figure in the investigation. He did not know shit about his own report or investigation.

  16. Look goddamnit, we’re going to get something useful out of that fucking report even if it kills us!

    1. How about this?

      Obstructive act (p. 111): This question “would not turn on what Attorney General Sessions would actually do if unrecused, but on whether the efforts to reverse his recusal would naturally have had the effect of impeding the Russia investigation. … The duration of the President’s efforts … and the fact that the President repeatedly criticized Sessions in public and private for failing to tell the President that he would have to recuse is relevant to assessing whether the President’s efforts to have Sessions unrecuse could qualify as obstructive acts.”

      Nexus (p. 111): At the relevant point, “the existence of a grand jury investigation supervised by the Special Counsel was public knowledge,” as well as the existence of a second grand jury empaneled in July 2017. However, “[w]hether the conduct towards the Attorney General would have a foreseeable impact on proceedings turns much of the same evidence discussed with respect to the obstructive-act element.”

      Intent (p. 111): “There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President’s conduct toward Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a way that would restrict its scope.”

      1. Which makes it sound as if Mueller was annoyed at the idea that his investigation had any scope limitations or oversight outside of the federal LEO clique.

  17. Over/under on a Pence presidency by December?

  18. Ahahahaha… look at these GOP shills. The argument doesn’t get any dumber… hey, you know what, when you go before a judge and you’re accused of a crime you should try to get “a friend” to tell the DA to drop the charges because you feel like the charges are bullshit. That’ll work.

    1. It just doesnt improve. So bad at this.

  19. There’s nothing bizarre about any of this. Trump was trying to quietly exerting pressure to stop people investigating him for something that he knew beyond any doubt was false (Don’t forget, Trump knew for certain that the explicit goal of the investigation, that he collaborated with Russia, was false), and wanted to focus on something that might have some benefit instead. Every part of this paragraph is true beyond any reasonable doubt.

    He didn’t issue any commands. He didn’t assert his authority. This was one step above asking nicely. I can hardly interpret this as interference. You might as well threaten to charge someone with perjury for pleading not-guilty.

    However, even assuming this is an illegitimate attempt to interfere, I cannot understand the headline. It’s one of the biggest non-sequiturs I have read in years. What is bizarre? How does this suggest a guilty conscience? This has descended into flat-out making stuff up.

    1. Ben….You have perfectly captured my thinking as well. +1000

    2. And Trump knew in his heart of hearts that his campaign manager and the dozen other fuckers indicted by Mueller were innocent too. Sure he was obstructing but it was a dead end road. What a guy!

      1. Come on! He couldn’t get even get his closest suckups to break the law for him so where’s the obstruction?

        1. Come on! He couldn’t get even get his closest suckups to break the law for him so where’s the obstruction?


          He may have wanted to obstruct. He probably talked about obstructing with his suckups and asskissers. Undoubtedly, in fact.

          But no one would do it. No one let him actually obstruct.

          Which means….you got nothing.

      2. I will agree, Pod, that that’s the less-generous interpretation of his actions. He didn’t want any of the things that he knew or suspected were wrong coming to light in heavy scrutiny. However, it does not change the fact that Muller’s explicit goal, finding collusion of the Trump campaign with Russia, was clearly false.

        I still maintain that this doesn’t count as interference by any normal definition of the word.

        1. It’s best not to spend too much time talking make believe with children.

      3. “And Trump knew in his heart of hearts that his campaign manager and the dozen other fuckers indicted by Mueller were innocent too. Sure he was obstructing but it was a dead end road. What a guy!”

        Yep, indicted for jay-walking, un-paid parking tickets, a couple of ‘lying to really important people’, and a tax issue.
        Were you trying to prove how stupid a fucking lefty ignoramus can be? You’re doing a good job of it.

        1. ^This is the person who went to bat for every crazy conspiracy theory north of Infowars on Benghazi. What a sad sack partisan hack. How was the GOP party shill?

          1. I heard Benghazi happened cuz of an internet video. That’s true, right?

      4. Rosenstein kept increasing the scope of the investigation way beyond anything Russia related. Mueller actually investigated Manafort for a crime he had no interest in when he was actually head of the FBI. How fucked up is that. The crime Manafort was arrested for had NOTHING to do with Russia and Mueller could not care lass when he headed the FBI at the time the crime was commited.
        In fact, if Manafort had never worked for Trump even for the very short time he did, Mueller STILL would not have care. He prosecuted Manafrot purely to force him to testify against Trump for any possible crime. The whole investigation should have been closed down once Mueller had concluded there was no collusion which was within the first year. The fact that Mueller continued the investigation beyond this point proves he was on a fishing expedition in search of a crime the investigation was not set up for. This investigation cost the American tax payer over $40 million. Most of that cost occurred AFTER the purpose of the probe has been concluded.
        Why the fuck is every American not pissed off about this disgusting waste of money and the fact that Mueller should have announced there was no collusion over a year and a half before he did.

        1. Why the fuck is every American not pissed off about this disgusting waste of money and the fact that Mueller should have announced there was no collusion over a year and a half before he did.

          Every thoughtful American is disgusted. Those with TDS, not so much.

    3. Going further

      If there’s one thing we know about Federal investigations, an investigation that doesn’t lead to a conviction or someone pleading guilty to something is a failed investigation.

      Reason frequently profiles people who got nabbed by the Feds, not because the supposed justification for investigating the person was determined to be true, but rather because somewhere along the line during the investigation, the poor sucker unwittingly fucks themselves (usually by 18 U.S.C. § 1001 ) in a manner that had little to nothing to do with why they were investigating in the first place.

      It almost seems as though this particular investigation was dragged on long beyond the point where they knew the answer to the collusion question to do just that. In this case the chances of getting 18 U.S.C. § 1001 to work were slim so entrapment by dragging it out to try and get him to interfere was the next best thing.

  20. Well, at least we know one thing; Mr. Sullum picked his side.

    1. Nothing wrong with picking a side, and nothing wrong with being anti-Trump. But the continuation of trying to squeeze a drop of blood from a totally Alex-Jones-esque conspiracy theory of Russian meddling which then pivoted to “obstruction” when that fell completely flat is just lazy.

      1. That Russia interfered by hacking the DNC and Clinton’s campaign manager is an established fact. Your bullshit is the crap you might find in Alex Jones’s mouth.

        1. It is not established fact dumbfuck. Only a DNC paid IT firm claimed Russia hacked their servers. They never handed the servers to the FBI. Idiots will fall for anything.

          1. You’re really bad at this. What you need to do is open the throat a little and go easy on the teeth when you are slobbering over Trump’s cock.

            1. Now you’re just copying. Terrible.

        2. Oh look, another (allegedly) crazy left-winger with fantasies of what’s in his political opponents mouths.

        3. Pod
          September.18.2019 at 8:42 pm
          “That Russia interfered by hacking the DNC and Clinton’s campaign manager is an established fact.”

          Which is an established lie, liar.

        4. Couple of points here Pod.
          Firstly, Wikileaks and the Russians are not the same thing.
          Julian Asssage does not work for Russia and indeed is not associated with Russia in any way.
          Secondly, the DNC would not allow the FBI to examine their servers so there is absolutely no proof that there were indeed hacked. In fact, according to metadata analysis the download speed to the data was way too high to have been done from an external connection meaning this was an inside job.
          The DNC knew this but they wanted to use the breach to continue to push the Russian narrative despite the fact that Wikileaks have NOTHING to do with Russia.
          The fact that many Americans still actually believe that Russia hacked the DNC bears witness to the sheer propaganda machine that is the leftist bias media. It is also the same rubbish media that continues to push a connection between Trump and Russia when there is absolutely no proven link as outlined in the Mueller report.

        5. When was this fact established? Assange says it wasnt Russia. There is evidence enough to beleive there was no hack, that an insider downloaded the emails.
          There is also the fact that Paki intel assets ran the entire Democrat IT operation

  21. Breaking news. Trump is a squirrelly dude.

  22. Yeah, the fact that the Democrats coming out of Clinton’s Hotel the morning after the election were claiming that they were going to impeach Trump should have no bearing on any of this.

    And the fact that the Obama Administration was using the FBI and several other spy agencies to spy on an opposing candidates campaign is irrelevant.

    And the fact that several Obama administration officials bragged that they had distributed classified information around the government in order to undermine the incoming president is of no Consequence. The fact that they stated in the New York Times that they had done so immediately after the inauguration should not weigh into your consideration at all.

    And the fact that bureaucrats loyal to the Clintons were leading the investigation into Russian interference should not give you any pause. Nor should the fact that the investigation did not Center on Russian interference, but rather spent nearly all of its efforts in attempting to coerce Trump Associates into testifying against him.

    No, the notion that what was supposed to be an investigation into Russian meddling in the election was 90% a fishing Expedition run by Clinton loyal list in an attempt to get rid of Trump should not inform your opinion at all.

    Because heaven forbid that any of the executives in charge of such an investigation should exercise any executive Authority and try to get the investigation back on track.

    It is a nice attempt at creating a catch-22 for Trump. But it is ultimately a pathetic failure. To the tune of 30 million dollars, Trump allowed them to run wherever they wanted to, Kangaroo Court whoever they wanted to, and subpoena whatever they wanted to. In the end they proved what they knew to begin with, that there was no Trump Russia connection.

    Of course that wasn’t the point of the investigation, was it? That was simply the pretext. Which is what everyone involved knew, including Trump. And they managed to use it to hamstring his administration for two years.

    If you buy into this nonsense, you simply have your partisan blinders on. I suppose you didn’t realize you still have them, having Allied yourself with the Third Way. But these things tend to make your old team-based biases resurface.

    You seem to have forgotten how you ridiculed Trump for suggesting that he was being wiretapped. Of course, now we know that there were several agencies spying on his campaign. And that they were sending agents not only from the FBI but also from foreign countries to infiltrate his campaign.

    Just think of how far you have dragged the goal posts in the last three years. Think of going back to your 2015 self and explaining that the Obama Administration would orchestrate a massive spying campaign on a republican candidate. And then when that campaign failed to prevent him from taking office, they would leak classified information that was illegally obtained from foreign wiretap.

    Imagine explaining to yourself how you think the Obama Administration did a great job, and the guy who was being spied upon was the bad guy.

    I don’t think your old self would have any patience for your new self.

    1. Some grow up, some grow spiteful.

  23. Oh, so Reason’s going to stoop to the NY Times’ method of anti-Trump innuendo and speculation?

    Write an article when you have actual proof Trump did something wrong, like an actual first-hand source who is willing to speak on the record about what Trump did in that meeting, Sullum. Till then, we’re quite sick of this fake news crap.

    1. LOL… how about his fucking lawyer?

      1. How about your oral rape fantasies?

  24. “But that take on the president’s powers, which Mueller explicitly rejected,”

    That self-serving rejection having precisely no significance, being based on nothing in the Constitution, just his desire to be the only person not subject to the President’s ultimate authority as the solitary person invested with the executive power. With everyone else including Mueller merely exercising a contingent delegation of it.

  25. Oh lord.

    The whole thing got boring once we got past the peeing in the bed thing.

  26. Why is Reason (sic) taking this roundabout method of communicating with President Trump instead of just sending him a letter? Doesn’t it indicate consciousness of impacted malignity?

    This comment not approved by Silicon Valley brain slugs.

  27. Clarence Thomas saw what was coming to America when he coined the phrase “high-tech lynching.” The new tactic is to accuse a political opponent of some unfalsifiable crime-in local politics it’s that developers send the mayor bags of cash-on the national level, “Trump colluded with Russia.” Then you either incite or invent whatever kind of circumstantial evidence you can-Trump asked the attorney general to say he was innocent, or Trump’s lawyer lied to a federal agent, or one of Trump’s 16 campaign managers didn’t report foreign earnings- and just keep piling it on. Then, the target becomes very frustrated, they feel helpless and it just gets worse because now it’s become irreversible. Do you think whether or not Trump 2016 colluded with Russia really matters to Democrats?

    1. Pfft… where we’re you when Reason commenters we’re going DEFCON 1 over Benghazi?

      1. Still not funny.

      2. People died in Benghazi and Clinton provably lied to congress during testimony regarding the matter. The 2 situations are barely comparable. Clinton also made the statement ‘who cares’ during her testimony so clearly she doesn’t care that Americans were killed.
        Trump is an angel compared to Clinton. She is scum.

    2. Since when do all libertarians defend powerful politicians against all evidence? Wouldn’t you at least err on the side of skepticism? Especially you know given all the fucking evidence?

      Mueller Report = Trump is indictable for felonies but for being president. Just imagine he has a fucking (D) after his name.

      This is all so exhausting. All the more so because I know you people are actually sincere and aren’t just trolling. It’s just all so sad.

      For Trump! For fucking Trump! How can you possible believe this is going to end well for him?

      1. Poor angry old man.

      2. “Mueller Report = Trump is indictable for felonies but for being president. Just imagine he has a fucking (D) after his name.”

        Mueller has now told congress twice that trump being president did not lead to his decision to not indict fuckwit.

        1. Tony needs to hear it while he is sucking the guy’s bone. Or else it’s not connecting with his reptilian brain.

        2. That would be correct if it weren’t the opposite of the truth.

      3. Indicted for what???
        What crimes has he committed?
        You are a lying asshole who is only capable for repeating DNC talking points. You are the true definition of an NPC

  28. Trump has been pushing the envelope since he became president. There are so many investigations into this president, his businesses, the inaugural fund, his namesake charity (that was forced to close bc Trump was using it as his own checking account), etc. The House and others, such as the Southern District of NY, are investigating this president for so many reasons. Trump declared bankruptcy 5 or 6X; we, the people, have a right to know if he is indebted to another country. Russia? Saudi Arabia? Whatever it is, Trump is spending big bucks hiring lawyers in hopes that his taxes don’t get out. Every other day, there is breaking news re this president. I have huge Trump-fatigue. Re this article, could Trump have told his AG to fire Mueller? Sure, that’s within his power. However, he knew better than to do that. Our country would have been in an uproar, had he done that. And he knew it. Another important legal term is “intent”; keep that in mind. And, as I write this, not surprisingly, there is another breaking news report on this crooked President. It has to do with a promise Trump made to another world leader that a whistleblower was so disturbed about, they reported it. My guess is it was Russia. But, let’s hope the truth comes out. Let’s hope that Trump, through unethical and/or immoral ways, tries to bury this story. As he did with the porn stars. Which was illegal, if proven true. Because that story was out there (hidden from us) and we, as voters and citizens, had the RIGHT to know. Trump took that away from us. I can’t wait for 2020. I want a smart, caring, articulate, compassionate president that I never have to worry where his or her loyalties lie.

      1. Yes. I’m the only person on earth who doesn’t think Trump is the bestest president ever and totally not a big fat criminal idiot disaster fuckface. The only one.

        You people need to seek some fucking help. Go away. This no place for fucking brownshirts. And for fucking goddamn Donald Trump? It makes me cringe just to think of you.

        1. Lawrence O’Donnell?

        2. What a whining bitch you are. The DNC and the media have had Trump under a spotlight since the day he announced and have found absolutely nothing. It must really suck to be you knowing there is fuck all you can do to remove Trump because he has not committed any crimes despite the hundreds of accusations thrown at him. Fucking soy boy. You are little more than a boil on the asshole of society. The lowest of the lowest trailer park trash.

          1. Whole milk for me, delusional fucknugget.

            I suppose I should be mad at Mueller for not explaining to you personally how many crimes Trump has committed.

            The next time a Democrat is an unindicted coconspirator in a crime, you’ll do us a favor and not cry bloody horror about it, yes?

    1. Did you have a point, or just that you can blow a lot of smoke out of your ass?

      1. LindaLovelace, I’m surprised you could write a sentence.

        As far as intent, it is only important if one is intending to commit a crime. Trump was not intending to commit a crime, only to avoid being compared to Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre, which was also legal, btw, although Nixon was attempting to cover up real crimes.

  29. “Again and again, the president tried to interfere with the Mueller investigation in a roundabout way.”

    See, he was thinking about it, and then hinted that maybe he wasn’t guilty of what was charged and then….
    That sort of ‘roudabout way’.

    1. Haha… look Trumpian shill thinks obstruction of justice is like jaywalking. What a riot… you shills are amazing.

      1. Still not funny Tony.

      2. Not once was Mueller’s investigation ever impeded. He asked Rosenstein to broaden his scope beyond the investigation of collusion and was given what he wanted without any interference from Trump. He carried on the investigation for over a year beyond concluding there had been no collusion, and still Trump did not end it. So where the fuck was the obstruction.
        Making statements expressing your desire to want this bogus probe ended does not constitute as obstruction unless you actually act on that desire which Trump did not since Mueller was allowed to run until he himself wrapped it up.

    1. I agree with Mrhotmaster. Not only is this article good for selling pirated copies of Tomb Raider. It’s also good for bringing out GOP suckups who a couple of years ago wanted to impeach a President because Islamists killed an Ambassador and now can’t bring themselves to stomach one criticism of GOP Good Cult Leader. What an embarrassing slimy lot they are.

  30. No one was ever able to prove criminal intent. Mueller admitted as much. He highlighted incidents that appeared suspicious in his final report but his team (who interviewed and listened in on everyone) likely knew it wouldn’t survive legal scrutiny. Without that, there’s no obstruction. When a prosecutor drop charges against a drug dealer due to lack of evidence, he shouldn’t be allowed to have second bites at an apple by suggesting “guilty conscience” or the fact that he hung around other drug dealers a lot.

    Trump wants no part of anyone who criticizes him or rubs him the wrong way. John Bolton and Jeff Sessions (immigration hawk from the south) aren’t exactly pariahs among his base, but he canned them anyways. He’ll probably go after Arpaio if he even appeared to turn on him. That side of him never went away in the Russian probe. He wanted Comey and “crooked” Mueller fired and stated that publicly. He had the legal authority to do so but in practicality he couldn’t, so he shot himself on a foot several times with some questionable decisions.

    Is anyone on the democrat side ever going to be impeached or rebuked for their witch hunt on BK? Are libertarians not disturbed by a political force ramming down investigations on their political opponents with no leads and cause, all in the name of “accountability”? Trump is a polarizing figure and effectively checked by a hostile media. No such checks exist for the radical left.

  31. All these wasted words, when he could have just written, “Confirmation bias is good!” and walked away, having accomplished as much.

  32. This author falls into the trap set by Mueller’s highly politicized prosecutors. They developed (apparently with the help of Lawfare) an extremely aggressive statutory interpretation of one Obstruction of Justice statute, taking phrases out of context, and ignoring long standing statutory construction rules. Notably, it has never been accepted by a single court. The effect was to change Obstruction from a specific intent, to a general intent crime. No longer did someone have to intend to cover up a crime, but instead merely had to interfere with a criminal investigation for any reason.

    Trump’s attorneys realized this in spring of 2018. In June, Wm Barr wrote a legal memo to DAG Rosenstein essentially eviscerating the Mueller Lawfare interpretation. Barr was subsequently sworn in as AG, and shut the Mueller investigation down after Mueller admitted that they had completely their Russian Collusion investigation much earlier, and all they were doing at that point was investigating Obstruction of Justice, a process crime, using their aggressive statutory reinterpretation. And were keeping their own investigation running using that very same theory, while also using it to keep Congress from investigating SpyGate (it was indirectly cited almost nonstop by FBI attys during all the hearings in fall of 2018).

    This interpretation was rejected by AG Barr (duh), DAG Rosenstein, as well as the DoJ’s OPR. By DoJ rules, DoJ prosecutors are not free to invent statutory interpretations of criminal statutes. Yet, the Mueller prosecutors, DoJ attorneys all, bound by that rule, did just that. And adopted their own statutory interpretation that was rejected by the DoJ itself, and the lawyers there whose job it is to interpret statutes for its prosecutors.

    And, the basis of this author’s article is essentially this very same misinterpretation of that Obstruction of Justice statute that has never been accepted by a court, and was specifically rejected by the AG, DAG, and the DoJ itself. Contrary to that interpretation, Obstruction of Justice requires specific intent, which therefore requires an underlying crime.

    1. They also read out the requirement that the obstruction be done “corruptly”; You not only have to have specific intent to obstruct investigation of an underlying crime, the “obstruction” must take the form of something you’re not actually entitled to do.

      For instance, a head prosecutor in a prosecutor’s office may decide that a particular case isn’t worth dealing with, and order his subordinates to drop it and move on to something else. This “obstructs” the investigation in the sense of the term Mueller was using, but doesn’t legally constitute “obstruction of justice” because the chief prosecutor is legally entitled to make such decisions.

      Trump, as President, is the top person in the executive branch, and is legally entitled to set the DOJ’s investigative priorities.

      That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible for him to corruptly obstruct an investigation. But he’d have to do it by something that’s outside his legal powers, such as ordering evidence under subpoena destroyed, or soliciting perjurious testimony. (Like Bill Clinton did.) Not just ordering a prosecutor to find something better to do with his time.

      1. ordering evidence under subpoena destroyed

        Hillary’s server, Hillary emails, DNC servers?

        1. Well, her too, though I was actually thinking of Bill; His impeachment charge was obstruction of justice: He’d had White House staff collecting and destroying evidence against him in a court case he was involved in, and had pressured witnesses to give false affidavits under oath. Cost him a fine, and he lost his law license over it, too.

          Now, if Trump had done something like THAT, it certainly could be obstruction of justice. But just issuing an order he has the authority to issue? No.

  33. “We are investigating you and we expect your full gratitude”

    Limit of executive power should come from Congress, not the FBI. That’s the idea that the major parties selectively forget each time power changes hands.

  34. Too bad Trump hasn’t used a personal email server for classified communication, lied about it, had it scrubbed, finally admitted it existed, and lied about the classification of emails until ones with classified data were found in other places.

    It’d be easy to get an impeachment then.

    1. No he just makes all his electronic communication available to the entire fucking world because despite pleas from national security staff he won’t give up his twitter toy.

      1. No he just makes all his electronic communication available to the entire fucking world because despite pleas from national security staff he won’t give up his twitter toy.

        One might surmise that you’re jealous that a 2-bit crook would stumble in and win the ‘Most Transparent Administration Evah’ trophy on accident.

        Would you really feel better if Trump’s administration were buttoned up tighter than Hoover’s FBI? I’m pretty sure I know the answer.

        1. I’d be satisfied not coming to a libertarian website and only reading comments defending a retarded authoritarian orange cellulite monster to the exclusion of all other thoughts.

      2. You mean Trump isn’t doing what the NSA tells him to do? Good!

        1. So it was bad when Hillary did it.

  35. lied about the classification of emails until ones with classified data were found in other places.

    It’d be easy to get an impeachment then.

  36. Lewandowski summed it all up for us nicely when he admitted that he only tells the truth when under oath. Trump and his minions are playing a game where they get away with unethical actions while thinking they are complying with the letter of the law. This is also how the GOP is increasingly operating in this country. It’s the same way Trump and his business associates do business. They find all kinds of accounting tricks in order to get loans when needed but not have to pay taxes. Hire an army of lawyers to protect from the shenanigans, rinse and repeat. Absolutely no integrity. Definitely not making America great again.

    1. This is also how the government is increasingly operating in this country.

      Fixed it.

    2. Really? It took Trump for you to realize that politicians lie?

      You mean Obama, Bush, and Clinton didn’t drive that point home enough?

    3. ” he only tells the truth when under oath. ”

      That places him one up on Mueller, Comey, and McCabe.

  37. Trump, as President, is the top person in the executive a branch, and is legally on entitled to set the DOJ’s investigative priorities.

    thank you for sharing an interesting article to read, it’s nice to get interesting information

  38. It’s probably rusty and full of vapors, since it’s been ready for use since time immemorial but only dusted off poorly for the Clinton impeachment.

  39. Did Steve Cohen take over Henry Waxman’s role as “The Phantom of the the Congress”?

  40. Some people just don’t get it: Mueller was invited to a frame conspiracy. He wanted to succeed.

    The fact that Trump was acting like he didn’t want to be framed is not the odd part.

  41. Yeah, Trump felt so guilty about not colluding with Russia that he instructed his employees to do something illegal so that Mueller couldn’t find out that he didn’t collude with Russia!

    Seriously, Reason, your propaganda is worthy of Pravda.

  42. I’m no Washington insider, but the events described don’t seem bizarre or unreasonable to me, and I am not any fan of trump. Imagine if Obama’s FBI launched a high profile years-long investigation into his birthplace, lending official weight to opposition concerns that he was not actually legally authorized to execute his office? Might he want to redirect such an investigation knowing that he in fact was born in Hawaii and wants to get on with his agenda? Might he, during a meeting with rom emanuel ask rom to pass a message on for him to that effect? I see no reason why either of these things would be suspicious or indicate Barack had a guilty mind.

    As to the second point, that past presidents have traditionally let the doj and fbi do their own thing is 1) not legally binding, 2) more than likely actually just wishful thinking, and past presidents were just more secretive about exerting influence over these agencies to pursue personal and political agendas (see: Obama’s irs scandal) and 3) whatever you think about trump (as I said, I’m not a fan myself) , he didn’t campaign on going to Washington to follow conventions.

    There’s plenty of real reasons to criticize trump, drumming up these weak strawmen just hurts Reason’s credibility, not trump.

    1. This Ahab/Queeg vibe of this article strongly suggests that Sullum remains butt hurt over the Hag’s defeat.

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