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Is Ignorance Trump's Excuse for Obstructing Justice?

Maybe the president doesn't know enough to break the law.

C-SPANC-SPANThe claim that Donald Trump is guilty of obstructing justice suddenly looks more plausible in light of the report that the president asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. But it still would be hard to make that charge stick in federal court (although it would be easier in impeachment proceedings, where Congress decides how much evidence is enough). The chief obstacle might be that Trump is too ignorant to be guilty.

The U.S. Code includes more than 20 provisions dealing with obstruction of justice. The most appropriate one in this context seems to be 18 USC 1505, which makes it a felony to "influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law," either "corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication." The provision covers "any pending proceeding...before any department or agency of the United States," which according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit includes investigations. The appeals court rejected the argument that "§1505 applies only to adjudicatory or rule-making activities, and does not apply to wholly investigatory activity."

On the face of it, Trump's actions might fit the description of this offense. He and his spokesmen have offered shifting, often contradictory, and sometimes plainly phony explanations for his decision to fire Comey last week. But in his May 11 interview with NBC News, Trump admitted that the FBI's investigation of Russian meddling in the presidential election, which includes the possible involvement of the Trump campaign, was on his mind. "When I decided to just do it," he said, "I said to myself...this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won." At the same time, Trump insisted that he wants the investigation, which he slammed as a "taxpayer-funded charade" the day before he sacked Comey, to proceed.

Although Trump clearly has the constitutional authority to fire the FBI director, even legal actions can qualify as obstruction if done "corruptly," i.e. "with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another." But proving that Trump specifically intended to impede the FBI investigation when he dismissed Comey would be tricky. In all likelihood, Trump had a mix of motivations, including (by his own admission) irritation at the investigation of ties between Russia and his associates but also his feeling that Comey was too easy on Hillary Clinton, that he was insufficiently enthusiastic about pursuing leakers, that he was disloyal in contradicting Trump's claim that Barack Obama tapped his phones, and that he was rude to say he feels "mildly nauseous" about the possibility that his handling of the Clinton investigation helped Trump win.

"Obstruction of justice cases often come down to whether prosecutors can prove defendants' mental state when they committed the act," notes New York Times reporter Charlie Savage in a legal explainer he updated yesterday in light of the latest revelation. "It is not enough to show that a defendant knew the act would have a side consequence of impeding an investigation; achieving that obstruction has to have been the specific intention."

The motive for Trump's alleged intercession on behalf of Flynn, one of the associates whose ties to Russia are a matter of interest to the FBI, seems much clearer. According to a description of notes by Comey that was shared with The New York Times and NBC News by two people who claim to have read them, Trump asked Comey to stick around after a national security meeting on February 14, the day after Flynn was forced to resign because he had lied about his contacts with Russian officials. "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," Trump reportedly told Comey. "He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

The White House denies this account of Trump's conversation with Comey. But if the contemporaneous memo described by the Times and NBC exists, it would be pretty strong evidence that the White House is (once again) lying. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wants to see the document, along with Comey's written accounts of other conversations with the president. In a letter he sent to Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe yesterday, Chaffetz notes that such memos would "raise questions as to whether the president attempted to influence or impede the FBI's investigation."

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) went further, saying the reported conversation "certainly appears to meet the definition in the [obstruction] statute." Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) was even surer. "Asking FBI to drop an investigation is obstruction of justice," Deutch tweeted yesterday. "Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense."

It's not clear whether McCabe, who last week told the Senate Intelligence Committee "there has been no effort to impede our investigation to date," knew about the alleged conversation regarding Flynn. But even assuming the account is true, proving that Trump acted with the requisite criminal intent might be difficult, especially since it is entirely plausible, given what we know about the president's ignorance of how the federal government works, that he did not realize his attempt to help Flynn was improper. If so, it is hard to see how he could have acted "corruptly," as the statute's mens rea element requires. The problem here is similar to the challenge of characterizing Trump's myriad misstatements. Is it a lie if he thinks it's true? Is it a crime if he does not realize he's breaking the law?

"I do not believe that our president sufficiently understands the nature of the office that he holds, the nature of the legal constraints that are supposed to bind him, perhaps even the nature of normal human interactions, to be guilty of obstruction of justice in the Nixonian or even Clintonian sense of the phrase," writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. He has a point. Someone who understood that firing Comey could be construed as obstruction of justice would not have broadcast his irritation with the Russia investigation the day before or so casually admitted afterward that it was a factor in his displeasure with Comey. Someone who understood that asking the director of the FBI to lay off Flynn could be construed as obstruction of justice never would have asked.

"It is a child who asks the head of the FBI why the rules cannot be suspended for his friend and ally," Douthat says, and a child "cannot really commit 'high crimes and misdemeanors' in any usual meaning of the term." But that determination is ultimately up to Congress, which needn't worry about the legal niceties that can make a crucial difference in criminal court. Obstruction of justice figured prominently in the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. At that point (which seems quite distant for Trump right now), obstruction is whatever 67 senators say it is.

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  • colorblindkid||

    Well it was Comey who set the Hillary "I didn't know it was illegal" precedent, after all.

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    That's what's so laughable about this--if you're not going to prosecute Her Highness for gross negligence under a law where mens rea isn't actually required, what authority do you have to go after Trump at that point if he claims the same thing?

    By all means, prosecute him for this if you wish, but you better slap the cuffs on Hillary as well for pulling the same "I didn't know it was illegal!" stunt.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    They have all the authority they think they need; they are the Right People and Trump is the Wrong People.

    Which is why the sooner the Democrat Establishment is given severance pay and a five minute head start, the better.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    So has the memo been released or has Comey officially confirmed the "report"?

    Also, has Comey mentioned how he notified the DOJ when Trump "reportedly" intimidated him?

  • WakaWaka||

    It's the Washington Post, so no

  • WakaWaka||

    An anonymous source told me that DanO is a sad and pathetic man. Fit to print in the Washington Post. To be fair, though, this is probably true

  • BYODB||

    Curious that a current FBI director would have sat on a memo proving obstruction of justice on the part of the President of the United States for a couple of months without mentioning it in even one of his many testimony on the subject, meetings with Congress and the Senate involving Trump, or even to the Justice Department itself.

    Is the implication here that Comey is so incompetent he doesn't recognize obstruction of justice when he see's it?

    At this point I'm pretty sure any yahoo off the street could send a letter to the Times or Post and they would publish it as long as it could be spun into an anti-Trump story.

  • Ron||

    also It wasn't a memo from Trump it was a memo by Comey to himself as to what transpired in a meeting. so Comey wrote the note, Its like when Dan Rather made up the history of President Bush's military carrier

  • BYODB||

    I don't think anyone know's what it might or might not be since no one has actually seen said memo in the first place. Considering they're reporting on it as if it's definitely proof of obstruction of justice, it's hard to take them at their word about any other 'fact' (re: unsubstantiated accusation) they might have 'uncovered' (re: been fed).

  • Chip Chipperson||

    Oh come on. One guy at the Times spoke to an anonymous source at the FBI who says he knows a guy who swears he's seen the memo personally and it's guaranteed to get Trump locked up. For real this time.

  • tlapp||

    Of course no evidence of him reporting such and incident. The report is a note written by Comey released after he was fired. Curioser and curiouser.

  • Longtobefree||

    1. On the Flynn matter, is you position that a request is automatically a threat that qualifies as obstruction?
    2. On the Comey firing matter, there is/was no obstruction of the ongoing investigation. The investigation continues, although without an administrator who was called incompetent by members of both parties. Is your position that Comey is/was fully competent to continue leading the FBI despite all of the publicly aired issues, and that the phrase "at the pleasure of the president" means "unless the opposition would be upset"? Exactly when would have been an acceptable time (to who?) to fire him?
    Full disclosure: I do not work from home and make millions.

  • Deven||

    This is what I don't get.

    Did Trump make a finger gun while he said this and stick it to Comey's forehead?

    "Hey bro, I fired him, hes already humiliated, I hope that's enough for you and you're not going to go after this guy who has spent his life serving his country and has done it pretty well."

    I don't see the big deal.

  • colorblindkid||

    I'm so glad the days are gone when simply criticizing the president was declared off-limits and racist. Now we can be openly treasonous and openly call for a coup, and ever assassination of the president, and it's all good.

  • damikesc||

    Obama? Reviled?

    The amen chorus that was the media didn't do shit to him.

    Give him Trump's coverage and he'd have been removed from office in less than a year.

    There is literally zero comparison with the kid glove treatment the press gave Obama and what they are giving Trump.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Dan O., please go back to whatever Liberal Art campus spawned you. You ain't gonna be happy in reality.

  • colorblindkid||

    People also forget the non-stop protests with BUSH=HITLER signs and people burning Bush effigies and open calls to execute the president for war crimes.

    This notion that Obama had a harder time than other presidents is so absurd I don't even understand how any sane person can believe it. He was treated like the fucking Pope, infallible and divine.

  • x'); DROP USER Tony;||

    He involved us in no-shit 7 different illegal wars, without the slightest hint of a peep from the left.

    The motherfucker LITERALLY had MULTIPLE American citizens off of a secret kill list murdered, and claimed that his own internal deliberations were sufficient to stand in for due process when determining which American citizens to kill.

    You CAN NOT pretend that Barack Obama was anything other than a worse Trump with better verbal discipline and retain any right to the pretense that you have principles.

  • colorblindkid||

    I'm sorry, but I consider assassinating an American citizen without due process to be far worse than waterboarding stateless terrorists.

    The IRS admitted to unfairly targeting conservative groups? Obama said there's "not a smidgen of corruption" and the non-Fox News press just dropped it.

    It took two years for the Gruber tapes to come out. He was paid $400,000 to be one of the architects of Obamacare, and he went around giving speeches explicitly saying they lied about everything and "relied on the stupidity of the American voter". Obama and Pelosi pulled a "we don't even know him" despite massive amounts of evidence otherwise. Only Fox News cared, and it was therefore ignored.

    I think our overthrow of Qaddafi was even dumber than our overthrow of Saddam, and it was based on false intelligence and overblown threat reports from Hillary's contacts there.

    The press's worship of Obama and refusal to take any of the criticisms of him seriously is why we have Trump now, and why nobody trusts the media.

  • Rhywun||

    why we have Trump now

    This. Any prog friends of mine who bitch about Trump are going to get a face-full of "this is your team's fault" from me. They are the ones who went so far off the deep end it turned off a lot of their once-reliable base.

  • Headache||

    You can add this to the list.
    Article II.
    Section 1.
    Paragraph 7
    The President shall at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

    Violated - http://www.washingtontimes.com.....ma-memoir/

    No matter how you cut it, Hilary and Obama violated the constitution, and crickets from the press.

  • Deven||

    My wife has one rule about politics; Obama is off limits, like he is Jesus or something.

    And they say progressivism isn't a mental disorder..

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    She's trying to protect you from slipping up and using the "nigger" word.

  • damikesc||

    Sure. Do that. The bloodshed that will follow will probably be extreme, but hey, you get to feel superior that your coup is justified.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    PREEEEEEEEEEEEET!

  • Johnny B||

    Yea, that asshole was in the National Post saying what a good an honourable man Comey is. Hopefully, Trump has a tape of what really happened and Comey spends a few years in jail.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Both.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    " But if the contemporaneous memo described by the Times and NBC exists, it would be pretty strong evidence that the White House is (once again) lying."

    We shall see, but if Comey was told by Trump to let Flynn skate, and Comey did nothing to address such an obstruction of justice, he may precede Hillary to prison.

  • Dizzle||

    This. I'll have to look up the article on fox but they had a great breakdown, listing the statute, that would require comey to report ANY obstruction of justice. The article was titled "comeys smoking gun has no powder". Basically if comey thought this discussion constituted obstruction he's legally required to report it immediately according to the statute named in that article. If he doesn't its an offense punishable by, if I recall correctly, 10 years jail time, among other things.

    So basically if comey wants to come out and say it was obstruction he's admitting he violated a federal statute at the time, and would open himself to punishment.

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    As I mentioned yesterday, Comey was so compulsive about providing updates on investigations that he made a public announcement regarding Hillary's emails to Huma just a week before the election, setting himself up to be a public piñata by the left for supposedly tanking her candidacy. For an FBI director, he was relatively transparent about what the agency was doing and tended to do things by the book when it came to investigations.

    And yet, when Trump supposedly commits an act of obstruction on an investigation after Flynn's firing, he doesn't immediately run to Congress or have his lackeys leak that info to the press, instead "holding it in reserve" for weeks in case he's fired for whatever reason? The whole thing just doesn't make sense, unless you believe he'd do the same thing if Hillary had been in the seat.

  • obijuan||

    Not saying that this will happen. Not saying that this is likely to happen. But I wouldn't be at all surpised to see the press get bit hard on their overreliance of anonymous sources. Imagine Comey getting pulled before Congress. All eyes are on him as he is asked about the meeting and the memo. Comey succinctly replies that there is no memo and no such conversation took place.

  • Curt2004||

    Except that given Trump's behavior to this point it's much more likely to be true than not...

  • damikesc||

    Then Comey goes to jail himself for not reporting it.

  • Dizzle||

    Yup.

    The more I think about this its clear trump outsmarted comey, and the media, and has them cornered. If comey tries claiming it was obstruction, he also goes down too for not reporting it. If the post mischaracterized or lied about it, they go down. If trump has recordings he can use them to prove his innocence, if comey has recordings trump will, probably rightfully, claim he was being illegally monitored or "wires tapped"

    No matter how hard the media tries, I think trump rope-a-doped the hell out of them all.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    It's pretty bad when even Putin is embarrassed by DanO.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Putin's obviously not using the Reasonable filter. All's i see is a bunch of peaceful white spaces, like grazing sheep or cumulus clouds.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    What's it like to come in your own mouth?
    Or did you actually have the ribs removed so you cab jam it down your throat so you don't have to taste it?

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    When did you change your nickname to "Streets"?

  • damikesc||

    Remember, DanO, a coup is ALWAYS bad. It's not OK if you happen to think the people doing it are really, really nifty.

  • BYODB||

    Why do you people continue to acknowledge him? Serious question. He's clearly, and obviously, a troll. It's not like 'argumentation', 'facts', or really anything is going to convince him of anything since he has no actual views. He just wants a rise.

    So just stop already. It's like wrestling with a pig in the mud; after a while you realize the pig enjoys it and it just makes you look stupid.

  • WakaWaka||

    Who wouldn't be embarrassed by DanO. I get the feeling that he cries a lot

  • DOOMco||

    That seems like a very homophobic remark, and it's very problematic.

  • Headache||

    I'm old enough and remember when then President Carter, released to the world the TOP SECRET SR71 spy aircraft.

  • Mark22||

    Mindless partisan drivel.

  • Mark22||

    Mindless partisan drivel.

  • Mark22||

    Mindless partisan drivel.

  • obijuan||

    It's not partisanship, but something else. There are a number of people, who are not liberals, that are hopelessly upset that Hillary did not win the presidency. I put Ross Douthat and Rod Dreher into this group. Each had their own motives. Not quite sure what Reason is operating under. In Dreher's case Trump's win significantly undermined the premise of his new book which is that the best we all can hope for is to carve out a space where the prevailing left/liberal culture will leave us alone like the Amish.

  • WakaWaka||

    "I put Ross Douthat and Rod Dreher into this group"

    Disagree. These men didn't want Clinton to win, either. They are religious conservatives. Dreher once said, correctly, that "Trump was not the antidote to what plagues our society, but a symptom"

  • Deven||

    I think the Republicans who are against Trump are worried that he is going to out their corruption or other deeds.

    The sheer desperation of the Dems, MSM and some Republicans to get him out of office is very fishy.

  • Ron||

    what it is, is politicians from both sides have really always been on the same side, its all theater, and they don't like outsiders and if they can oust Trump there will never be another outsider running for office which will doom the U.S. to a slow socialist death spiral just like all of Europe where they have multiple parties in name only to keep the people believing they have an impact on whats happening

  • sarcasmic||

    We still put the retarded behind bars.

    You're posting from jail? That explains a lot.

  • WakaWaka||

    ^ Does anyone else think this guy is more insufferable than Shikha

  • WakaWaka||

    Likewise, good sir

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    We still put the retarded behind bars.

    Haven't seen HiLIARy, Podesta or DWS in orange jumpsuits ... yet.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    "We still put the retarded behind bars."

    If you're Bill Clinton, you even execute them.

  • ThomasD||

    We'll save DanO's pie for when he gets back.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I expected nothing from a Trump presidency beyond bizarre entertainments, and boy howdy has he delivered.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    See how nice it is to having elected someone who isn't an attorney? He doesn't have the requisite knowledge to do these things subtly.

  • Constitutioniscool||

    The flip side of that is that we also have to stomach watching otherwise reasonable men pretend like the emperor has no clothes.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Sullum is incredibly fair and consistent.

    Exhibit 1

    Here's Sullum explaining why Comey wouldn't prosecute Hillary Clinton:

    "'Well, the director just said she was extremely careless. So how is that not prosecutable?'

    The short answer: It is prosecutable, but Comey believes it should not be prosecuted because people should not be charged with a crime when they may not have realized they were breaking the law."

    ----Jacob Sullum, July 8, 2016

    http://tinyurl.com/m8272ly

    That's perfectly consistent with what Sullum is saying here about Trump, that even if what he did was obstruction, whether he was guilty of a crime would be a question of his state of mind.

  • Deven||

    Except in this case the law specifically needs intent. Otherwise you could get nailed with obstruction for accidentally walking into a drug bust.

    In Clinton's case, it did not.

  • damikesc||

    In Clinton's case, it did not. Gross negligence is sufficient.

    And there is zero legal justification for what she did. Her doing it period was illegal. No defense is possible.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Read Sullum's piece on Hillary.

    He's talking about Comey's judgement within the narrow application of testimony.

    If you want to convict Hillary of perjury, you're asking a different question.

    The question at hand was whether Comey had the means to convict her of mishandling intelligence despite her testimony.

    You can even disagree with Sullum's arguments on this--but no one should accuse Sullum of being partisan or taking sides. Sullum is applying the same logic to Trump that he did with Hillary--it's an intellectual argument divorced from his own partisanship--which is both awesome and unusual.

    Not every Reason writer is like that. Sullum is the epitome of the non-partisan libertarian rational journalist.

  • BYODB||

    Sullum and Shackford are both pretty decent, even when I disagree with them a bit. They are at least reasonable, which is a good thing for a publication literally called Reason. Keep fighting the good fight Ken.

  • Constitutioniscool||

    Its not hard to see how Trump is acting corruptly. The man is dripping in lies and corruption. His whole life is a testament to to corruption. And that's what juries get to decide. The case should be put in front of a jury because there's no doubt there's probable cause to arrest and try this slimebag.

  • damikesc||

    Fortunately, the person he had to best for the WH was dramatically more corrupt and a far bigger liar than he.

  • Deven||

    The things that Trump has allegedly done pale far in comparison to Clinton or Obama. Classified info? Anyone remember the doctor who was our source for Bin Laden? Clinton's corruption with Russia is well documented. Let's not forget Bill meeting with the AG on the tarmac.

    These things, compared to anonymous sources, and guess which ones are the bigger story?

    I don't even need to list F&F, IRS, etc, do I?

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    When Clinton was Prez, our country was named

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
    a chinese LLC

  • damikesc||

    Obama's admin leaked the name of the Seal team that killed OBL and the name of the commander for a movie.

    They leaked the Stuxnet virus info --- then had the vice chairman of he JVS lie.

    They forced gun store owners to violate the law for an international gun "sting" that they failed to mention other countries they were running.

    They forced us to share information with one of the major players in espionage against us, Cuba.

    Yup, they didn't do much.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Question 1

    Is Sullum missing a big piece of the puzzle?

    In the case of Hillary Clinton, Comey decided there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute, but that wasn't his determination to make as FBI Director. That determination rightly belonged to the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. Did Loretta Lynch ask Comey to end the investigation into Hillary Clinton? Did Barack Obama make any such requests of Loretta Lynch or Comey?

    Why did Comey usurp the Attorney General's power in a public announcement without any complaints from the Attorney General? Is it not reasonable to assume that there was some communication between the two? Maybe Sullum addressed this in another post--but he seems to be ignoring that question in the piece I linked above.

    Now we're being told that Trump asked Comey to end the investigation of Flynn.

    Did Comey take notes on his conversations with Loretta Lynch and Barack Obama about the Hillary Clinton investigation?

    For the sake of consistency, I think we need to see whatever notes Comey has about those conversations, too.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's about credibility.

    I mean, a non-partisan like you, Shrike, you wouldn't want to see the FBI become partisan, would you?

    Is Comey partisan? My understanding is that Comey only piped up about the additional Hillary Clinton emails they found at the last minute because he was afraid the FBI under him would revolt and go to the press with the information themselves if he didn't do the right thing and acknowledge their existence.

    Otherwise, is Comey being purposeful in who he takes notes from and what he writes in his notes?

    Again, it speaks to Comey's credibility.

    Tell me he didn't have any communications with his boss about the Hillary Clinton investigation, and we'll know he's a liar. To whatever extent he took notes on those conversations, we should get to read them along with whatever he wrote about his conversations with Trump.

  • chemjeff||

    "My understanding is that Comey only piped up about the additional Hillary Clinton emails they found at the last minute because he was afraid the FBI under him would revolt and go to the press with the information themselves if he didn't do the right thing and acknowledge their existence."

    So, your "understanding" just happens to miraculously coincide with the right-wing narrative at the time? Is that it?

    What is the evidence for your contention?

  • Number 2||

    I for one would like to see the memorandum that Comey allegedly wrote about Trump's alleged request. Members of both parties in Congress are already talking about subpoenas.

    All I can say is that if this memorandum does not exist, it will make WMDs in Iraq look like a proven fact by comparison.

  • damikesc||

    There's no way Comey would leak the existence of his memos if they didn't exist.

    He claimed he was prevented from additional resources for the "investigation", a statement disputed by the FBI.

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    He claimed he was prevented from additional resources for the "investigation", a statement disputed by the FBI.

    It hasn't been confirmed that Comey made the claim, as far as anyone still knows it's just been anonymous sources that made this claim to the WaPo, which could be anyone.

  • damikesc||

    It hasn't been confirmed that Comey made the claim, as far as anyone still knows it's just been anonymous sources that made this claim to the WaPo, which could be anyone.

    That's the case with every word of the entire "scandal".

    Comey did testify nobody has obstructed or interfered with his investigation.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    Did Comey leak a memo?

  • Dizzle||

    Then hell go to jail for not reporting the obstruction at that time, in February.

  • damikesc||

    Hardly. The press has been wrong so often and the Left and Reason (I know, I repeat myself) still trumpet everything as "TIME FOR IMPEACHMENT!! WORST EVER!!!"

    At this point, I don't take a word of it seriously.

  • damikesc||

    Yup, "I don't take it seriously" is totes furious.

  • Ron||

    If I claim I wrote a memo about a meeting at some time in the past and anyone finally asks to see it, it wouldn't be that hard to write a memo and post date it for anytime I wish. so there will be a memo real or Dan Rathered

  • Number 2||

    I am assuming, perhaps foolishly, that the memo is Date-stamped and filed properly, given that it is supposedly documentary evidence of a criminal obstruction of justice. If not, then it would seem that Mr. Comey has some explaining to do.

  • Ron||

    if the note is in his personal notes maybe not but then a lot of people do all their writing on Ipads now

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    If I claim I wrote a memo about a meeting at some time in the past and anyone finally asks to see it, it wouldn't be that hard to write a memo and post date it for anytime I wish

    No, it wouldn't, but even in pdf form it would have Comey's written or digital signature on it, and it would be pretty obvious if something like that was doctored. So let's wait and see when the actual memo is released and Comey gets called before Congress to testify about it--should be interesting when he gets asked why he didn't immediately report this if it even had the hint of an obstruction of justice.

  • BYODB||

    Indeed, what other memo's might exist when just this one is enough to implicate Comey in a cover-up on behalf of Trump to ignore his obstruction of justice. That makes total sense, until you think about it for two seconds and realize there's no way that's what happened.

    They are essentially saying that Comey was so bad at his job that he didn't see it as obstruction of justice until, surprisingly, the person fired him several months later. Weird!

    The truly sad thing is Hitler was right in regards to the Big Lie. If you repeat an absurd lie often enough, most people will think there's some truth to it. It's actually kind of educational watching a bureaucratic coup in process, but it's mostly just sad and terrifying. Reason's coverage of the whole thing lacks rational skepticism and that makes me question why I come here in the first place. Robby especially has swallowed every 'anonymous source' hook, line, and sinker.

    It's become so bad these days that the only semi-sane outlet I can listen to is Mark Levin, and frankly the guy is wrong on a whole slew of domestic and foreign issues IMO. Sad times when a Constitutional Conservative is more libertarian than a libertarian rag.

  • Ron||

    "watching a bureaucratic coup in process."

    Trump may be a moron but what should really worry people is this bureaucratic coup that is occurring. This only proves that presidents are only figure heads and only helps conspirators who already believe that our government is run by aliens or jews or the illuminati or etc

  • BYODB||

    More or less, yeah. Much like how the ACA is 'Obamacare' when he wasn't particularly involved in making the legislation, and apparently never actually read the thing. He was just the salesman by-and-large. People can debate if his lies were deliberate or the result of not looking into the ACA further than a first glance, it doesn't really matter though.

    What we're seeing now is a bureaucratic response to someone like Trump threatening their alphabet soup agencies with budget cuts, or the axe.

    Now, I don't personally believe that Trump really cares much about actually accomplishing that goal but it sure appears that if someone was actually serious about those things they should do a little more than watch their back since there appear to be entire agencies full of guys like Marcus Junius Brutus. Along with vast spying powers granted to the government, and media outlets that lack rational skepticism with partisan axes to grind, we end up with a serious threat to the Republic.

  • Adam330||

    Asking Sessions and Pence to leave before making the request is certainly evidence that he knew he was doing something wrong. If he thought the request was above board, why wouldn't he want his VP and AG to know.

  • Curt2004||

    Good point.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    "Irony". See above.

  • Ron||

    some of us are so efficient at work that we can waste hours on line

  • Rebel Scum||

    looks more plausible in light of the report that the president asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

    "Asked", not "ordered". Not to mention the wording was very light. So what justice was obstructed?

  • Adam330||

    A request from your boss carries a different meaning than a request from someone else. If your boss "asks" you to stop working on a project, most people will reasonably understand that as direction.

  • chemjeff||

    No, you're right. When your boss "asks" you to work on the weekend, he isn't really "ordering" you to work on the weekend, and so you should feel free to refuse the request and sleep in on Saturday without any negative repercussions.

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    When your boss "asks" you to work on the weekend, he isn't really "ordering" you to work on the weekend, and so you should feel free to refuse the request and sleep in on Saturday without any negative repercussions.

    Isn't this the issue here, though? If Comey thought there was even a hint of obstruction in that conversation (if it indeed went down as is being reported), then he was legally obligated to immediately report it as part of the investigation proceedings. Instead, this information comes out only after he was fired, which means one of two things--he sat on this as a hedge on the mere possibility that Trump was going to can him (something that's difficult to believe considering he was caught flat-footed by his release), which means he's going to be in hot water as well for not being forthcoming about this when it happened; or he didn't actually consider it to be obstruction, which is why he never reported it to begin with.

    Either way, if Trump goes down over this, he's going to drag Comey right down with him and they could both end up in jail.

  • damikesc||

    Trump admitted that the FBI's investigation of Russian meddling in the presidential election, which includes the possible involvement of the Trump campaign, was on his mind. "When I decided to just do it," he said, "I said to myself...this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won."

    With the revelation of Rich sending 44,000+ emails to Wikileaks, he is correct in the assessment.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Can you just quit spamming the H&R comments with your vapid Twitter feed?

    Please.

  • damikesc||

    According to a description of notes by Comey that was shared with The New York Times and NBC News by two people who claim to have read them

    That's some damned fine journalism.

    No, the media didn't see them. They spoke to people who swear they read them.

    And from this third-hand hearsay, we should impeach him.

    Got it.

    Want to see violence? Pursue this path.

  • damikesc||

    That's it. When your guy commits a crime, hit the streets and start the burning and trashing. Do you have an all-black outfit in your closet?

    Your side has been doing so for months. So spare me your feigned indignation.

    You want to perform a coup? That is specifically what you called for.

    There won't be enough lampposts to hang the bodies from. It will be bloody and vicious --- and completely and totally well-deserved.

  • damikesc||

    Please do. I will greet a coup with violence.

    Apparently, you will have to see who is doing the coup first.

  • damikesc||

    You tell me. It's the height of antifa fashion.

  • Adam330||

    We'll see soon enough. Congress is asking for the memos and Comey will likely testify in the next couple weeks. If this is all made up, we'll quickly learn about it.

  • Chris Paige||

    Huh? The President is the FBI Director's boss -- a boss can direct his staff w/o obstructing justice. So these facts (assuming that they are the facts) don't amount to obstruction of justice whatever Trump's intent. You don't need to consider his alleged mens rea because these acts just aren't illegal even if they're true.

    Quite simply, a boss telling his staff what to do isn't illegal whatever his intention; you'd need much, much more than what's been alleged here. In effect, you're arguing that the President can't have any role whatsoever in supervising criminal investigations, but that would impinge upon the President's control of the executive branch.

    Do you really want to live in a world in which the President cannot prevent investigations that he disagrees with? Do you really want to make all of us subject to investigations whenever the civil service feels we should be investigated? Allowing the political branches to STOP investigations seems like the best kind of politics, no? Arguing for limits on the President's ability to START investigations scarcely suggests or implies that he shouldn't be able to STOP them. I, for one, want every limit on government investigations we can get -- including, but not limited to allowing politicians to STOP them for political reasons. The alternative is living at the sufferance of civil servants, who can investigate us for anything whenever they like.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    The President is above the FBI.

  • damikesc||

    It's been six months.

    Can you explain, PRECISELY, what is being "investigated"?

    BecAuse nobody on your side seems able to.

  • damikesc||

    So, you cannot explain what, precisely, is being investigated.

    Got it.

    I didn't expect much...yet you disappointed. Amazing.

  • Adam330||

    With respect to Flynn, PRECISELY, the investigation is into whether he accepted and failed to disclose foreign payments, whether he lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, and whether he was involved in any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Happy?

  • damikesc||

    What, EXACTLY, is the "collusion"? What did Russia do specifically to help Trump and what has he done.to benefit them?

    Collusion requires some logical basis. It's been six months. There is no logical basis.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Thank you, Adam.

    Been waiting for that for a long time.

    Now, what the fuck does that have to do with TRUMP?

  • Ron||

    Excellent point Chris Page and as I recall didn't Obama tell the DOJ to not prosecute certain crimes like marijuana crimes, wouldn't that also be obstruction of justice. Even if he threatened to fire him since its not a crime to threaten to fire someone who does not do the job you ask them to do.

    Is it a convoluted argument? Maybe someone with intelligence could address that, that leaves Dan o out of it.

  • BYODB||

    Prosecutorial discretion is unfortunately a thing, but then again so is a Presidential Pardon so it's pretty lolzy all around as far as how utterly retarded pretty much everyone is at this point.

  • chemjeff||

    "Do you really want to live in a world in which the President cannot prevent investigations that he disagrees with?"

    Actually, yes.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    So you want the FBI to be independent of the President?

  • eyeroller||

    Is it a crime if he does not realize he's breaking the law?

    Pretty sure the answer is yes.

  • damikesc||

    Clinton, Hillary skated on that precise reasoning according to Comey.

  • damikesc||

    You would think that America's intelligent Republicans would know that ignorance of the law is not a valid defense.

    Some idiot made this statement.

    I had to demonstrate that it is very much not the case.

    Sorry if I was too clever for you, but it is hard to avoid that.

  • BigT||

    Mens Rea is real for most crimes. Not sure about ooj

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    I dunno.

    I am beginning to think this is the actualization of a Forrest Gump Administration.

    Ever meandering into apparent stupidity, yet still making the opposition look even worse at the end of the day.

    Still infinitely better than the Anointed Crone and the rest of the felonious Donks, tho.

  • Tony||

    You have to be a fucking retard to believe this. Do you really think you and the 30% of diabetic crackheads who are still behind Trump are the ones on the right side of history?

  • Curt2004||

    Oh well, Pence for president...I guess.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/v.....40341.html

  • BigT||

    Pres Pence today appointed Rand Paul as VP.

    Later...
    Pres Pence resigns for health reasons

  • Ron||

    From the one sentence I've seen reported which has not been repeated even in the article so that people will forget what was actually said, it was not threatening or obstructionist since Trump did not obstruct or threaten he is not guilty of either.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""The he has nothing to worry about when witnesses start getting subpoenaed.""

    Maybe, but I think the witnesses will be hiding behind the 1st amendment to shield their sources.

  • tlapp||

    Comey gets fired because he quit running a law enforcement agency and got involved in partisan politics. I can still remember him laying out the case against Hilary only undermine everything he said to drop the case. A few months ago I saw his smugness saying he would be around for a long time, then he got fired and now has a memo written by him trashing the guy who fired him. Hmmm, was that his insurance policy. I am not a Trump voterbut Comey had to go, I'll just blame for Trump for not firing him in his inaugural speech along with a number of others.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    There is no way Comey could have been fired by Hillary or Trump without it looking like a vendetta. Regardless if it was or wasn't. The left was wanting him fired, but by who? Of course they would have defended Hillary if she did it claiming the vendetta was not real, and it was the right thing to do.

  • Tony||

    She wouldn't have fired him, especially if there were still an investigation going on, because she's not the fucking moron Trump is, who is well on his way to getting impeached by a Republican fucking Congress.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Ignorance was ok for Clinton, but way out of bounds for Trump. That's why I can't take partisan hacks serious.

  • chemjeff||

    This false distinction between a "request" and an "order" is of course just a semantic word game. The "requests" made by people in positions of power are often interpreted as "orders" by that person's subordinates, and correctly so in most cases. If your boss "requested" you to work on the weekend, would you not interpret that "request" as just as binding on you as if it had been a directive ordering you to work on the weekend?

  • Brendan||

    Note to Reason writers:This memo has as much credibility as the standard FBI 302.

  • Johnny B||

    First, the caveat. Maybe Comey is telling the truth and in that case, there may be an obstruction of justice argument.

    But seriously, if a company had an employee who was just fired, how much credibility should the public put on a just released claim of company wrong-doing by that employee?

    What is even worse, if Comey really was asked by Trump to drop a case that was ongoing, the correct response was to immediately call a press conference, and announce that he was resigning in face of Trump's pressure. But Comey had come to that bridge once before, when it was obvious after the Bill / Lynch meeting to talk about grandchildren on the tarmac that there was serious obstruction of justice going on in the Hillary case. Comey couldn't do it then, and he wouldn't do it now. So instead, he allegedly (since no-one has identified themselves as having seen the damn thing) writes a ``memo'' of his recollections, like that is evidence, and then wonders why he got fired. What a douche.

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    Jacob, you give me a sadz.

  • Amogin||

    There is an old saying that "ignorance of the law is no excuse," which would apply in this case. However, I can't say that I find it at all calming or encouraging that the man with his finger on the nuclear button who will soon be setting off to represent the US in some of the most fraught regions of the world is too stupid to know the law. No one expects the President or anyone who is not a prosecutor to know all the different variations of the law against obstruction of justice but how much intelligence does it take to know that one shouldn't ask the FBI director, in charge of investigating ties between the administration and Russia, not to investigate a National Security advisor who was just fired for supposedly lying to the VP about those ties and the conversations that led to them? If this reason, put forth by the White House is true, why would the President not want to know the extent of the lies? Sorry this explanation just doesn't pass the smell test, especially since it has since been determined that Gen. Flynn was receiving payments from Turkey while he was the Trump campaign's national security advisor.

  • Gluteus Maximilian||

    Under Article 2, Section 3, Clause 5, the president is responsible for enforcing the law. He delegates that responsibility to the Attorney General and through the Attorney General to the FBI. He has a great deal of discretion in interpreting how and even whether to enforce laws. The president is totally within his authority to direct the FBI to drop an investigation. It's a good thing that most presidents don't do it, but that doesn't change the fact that the president has the authority. The FBI has no authority to overrule a presidential directive.

  • Budbug||

    So the gist of this article is that Trump is too ignorant to be a corrupt politician?
    That's okay by me. Maybe we've had "enlightened" criminals at the helm for too long.

    Do you people even listen to yourselves? Or is morality so relative now that you don't even know right from wrong?

  • Stephen54321||

    "Is it a lie if he thinks it's true? Is it a crime if he does not realize he's breaking the law?"

    So ignorance of the law really is a valid excuse?

    After all, most people are not law experts, and therefore do not know all the ins and outs of the legal code. That would especially apply to foreigners. All those illegals Trump and his supporters feel are getting away with murder, they could easily argue: "We didn't know running over somebody was illegal in America."

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