Fighting the good fight

At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good.

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Facts about the election of President Trump

HERE ARE THE FACTS: If you put all the pieces together here’s what you get: The DNC rigs the Democratic Primary Election against Bernie Sanders so Hillary can win the nomination. Obama’s administration starts to request surveillance on Trump, his family, his transition team, and anyone associated with him. Donna Brazil gives Hillary the questions to a debate against Bernie .The DNC pays Christopher Steele to come up with a smear dossier about Trump. The mainstream media releases a taped conversation about Trump talking about grabbing women parts. After all this Trump still wins the General Election. Obama orders an investigation into Russia meddling in our elections. Obama changes Executive Order 12333 to allow more agencies to have access to surveillance data. The Democratic Party comes up with a scandal that Trump Colluded with Russia to win the election with no evidence or proof. This wild claim is backed up by the mainstream media. Obama hold overs start unmasking Trump’s transition team and staff members then release the classified information to the mainstream media. Why? Because the DNC and the Obama administration colluded with the intelligence community to thwart Trump’s campaign efforts to get him elected president. All this Russia collusion is an attempt to cover up the fact that the Obama administration, the intelligence community, the DNC, along with the mainstream media used our nations surveillance as a political tool to try to get Hillary elected President. This makes Watergate look like a kindergarten play.

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Under obama

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Chance of impeachment. No crime under us code

good place to start would be with the federal law, specifically 18 U.S.C. 1503. The criminal code demands more than what Comey reportedly describes in his memo. There are dozens of different variations of obstruction charges ranging from threatening witnesses to influencing jurors. None would fit this case. That leaves the omnibus provision on attempts to interfere with the “due administration of justice.”

 

However, that still leaves the need to show that the effort was to influence “corruptly” when Trump could say that he did little but express concern for a longtime associate. The term “corruptly” is actually defined differently under the various obstruction provisions, but it often involves a showing that someone acted “with the intent to secure an unlawful benefit for oneself or another.” Encouraging leniency or advocating for an associate is improper but not necessarily seeking an unlawful benefit for him.

Then there is the question of corruptly influencing what? There is no indication of a grand jury proceeding at the time of the Valentine’s Day meeting between Trump and Comey. Obstruction cases generally are built around judicial proceedings — not Oval Office meetings.

Of course, that does not change the fact that the question by Trump was wildly inappropriate. Yet, it also raises questions of Comey’s judgment. The account suggests that Comey was so concerned about the conversation that he wrote a memorandum for record. But that would suggest that Comey thought the president was trying to influence the investigation but then said nothing to the Justice Department or to his investigation team. The report says that, while Comey may have told a couple of colleagues at the FBI, he did not tell the investigation team “so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.”

Why? If he thought the president was trying to derail the investigation, that would seem relevant to the scope of the investigation. It is like a bank president seeking to close a fraud investigation, but the contact in the FBI decided not to tell bank investigators. One explanation would be that Comey did not view Trump as a potential target of the Flynn investigation, and thus did not view the uncomfortable meeting as relevant to the investigation team (and Trump has maintained that Comey told him three times that he was not a target). However, that would make the case even weaker for allegations that Trump was trying to protect himself or his inner circle by seeking closure for Flynn.

It is highly concerning that Trump has described how Comey actively campaigned to keep his job during this period. As usual, Trump has created the most problematic record for judging his own actions. If Comey was pleading for his job as suggested by Trump, the impropriety of the alleged statement in the Oval Office would be exponentially increased. Trump categorically denies that the statement was ever made. That alone could support an immediate demand for any and all tapes in the possession of Trump and he would be required to turn them over.

There is a separate question of whether this type of alleged obstruction could be the basis for impeachment. As someone who has been down that long impeachment road before, I would again advocate caution. Last night, respected former presidential advisor David Gergen said that, with the Comey memo, we are now “in impeachable territory.” If so, we have one foot on the shore and one in a raging surf. Before we start an impeachment proceeding, we need to be on terra firma. It requires more than uncomfortable meetings or ill-considered disclosures.

It is certainly true that an impeachable offense does not have to be a prosecutable crime despite the standard of “treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors.” Professors like Laurence Tribe and others have called for impeachment, even before this latest allegation. It is also true that Richard Nixon was facing impeachment allegations that included efforts to influence or obstruct the investigation of his campaign.

However, Nixon’s impeachment involved a host of clear criminal acts from slush funds to burglaries. There is still no compelling evidence of an actual crime at the heart of the Russian investigation. Flynn is facing allegations of basic reporting or disclosure violations under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) which is rarely actually prosecuted. Indeed, there have been only seven prosecutions under FARA since 1966, when the law was revised.

The investigation of Flynn has not produced any reported evidence implicating Trump. A FARA violation is a relatively minor federal violation for a president if that is the scope of the FBI investigation. Obviously, if there is some undisclosed major crime implicating the president, the seriousness of the alleged statement would grow in the same proportion. However, Trump has insisted that he was told repeatedly by Comey that he was not under investigation.

Impeachment is not meant to be an alternative for criminal cases that cannot be submitted to a grand jury. It is also not meant to be politics by other means. Finally, it is not a vehicle to redo an election for those with morning-after regrets. Ironically, for those who charge that Trump has compromised the legal system, the same objection can be made over demands for criminal charges or impeachment based on his still undisclosed memo.

Fortunately, there is ample reason to expect answers to these questions. There is a paper trial and witnesses. Moreover, by discussing aspects of these conversations with Comey, Trump has undermined claims of privilege and has made it easier for Comey to speak to Congress. However, absent tapes, this could well end up as a “he said, he said” dispute.

These men were obviously not fond of each other. Comey reportedly said that Trump was “outside the realm of normal” and possibly “crazy.” Trump has called Comey a “showboat” and equally disdainful remarks. Whether it is a memorandum for record or a diary entry, one-sided accounts of conversations generally fall short of compelling evidence with this type of history of tension.

For all of these reasons, we need to move beyond the hyperventilated pronouncements of criminal conduct or impeachable offenses based on this memo. This conversation in the Oval Office is a valid matter of concern and worthy of further investigation. It is not proof of an impeachable offense any more than it is proof of a crime.

 

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. He testified during the Clinton impeachment and serves as the lead defense counsel in the last impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate for Judge Thomas Porteous.

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Trump obstruction of justice? I think not

A dangerous argument is now being put forward by some Democratic ideologues: namely that President Trump should be indicted for the crime of obstructing justice because he fired FBI Director James Comey. Whatever one may think of the president’s decision to fire Comey as a matter of policy, there is no legitimate basis for concluding that the president engaged in a crime by exercising his statutory and constitutional authority to fire director Comey. As Comey himself wrote in his letter to the FBI, no one should doubt the authority of the president to fire the director for any reason or no reason.

It should not be a crime for a public official, whether the president or anyone else, to exercise his or her statutory and constitutional authority to hire or fire another public official. For something to be a crime there must be both an actus reus and mens rea – that is, a criminal act accompanied by a criminal state of mind.

Even assuming that Trump was improperly motivated in firing Comey, motive alone should never constitute a crime. There should have to be an unlawful act. And exercising constitutional and statutory power should not constitute the actus reus of a crime. Otherwise the crime would place the defendant’s thoughts on trial, rather than his actions.

Civil libertarians, and all who care about due process and justice, should be concerned about the broad scope of the statute that criminalizes “obstruction of justice.” Some courts have wrongly interpreted this accordion-like law so broadly as to encompass a mixture of lawful and unlawful acts. It is dangerous and wrong to criminalize lawful behavior because it may have been motivated by evil thoughts. People who care about the rule of law, regardless of how they feel about Trump, should not be advocating a broadening of obstruction of justice to include the lawful presidential act of firing the FBI director. Such an open-ended precedent could be used in the future to curtail the liberties of all Americans.

So let’s put this nonsense behind us and not criminalize policy differences, as extremists in both parties have tried to do. Republican and Democratic partisans often resort to the criminal law as a way of demonizing their political enemies. “Lock her up,” was the cry of Republican partisans against Hillary Clinton regarding her misuse of her email server. Now “obstruction of justice” is the “lock him up” cry of partisan Democrats who disagree with Trump’s decision to fire Comey.

I opposed the criminalization of policy differences when Texas Governor Rick Perry, Congressman Tom Delay and Senator Bob Menendez were indicted, and I strongly oppose the investigation now being conducted against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The criminal law should be used as the last resort against elected officials, not as the opening salvo in a political knife-fight. There is no place in a democracy for elastic statutes that can be stretched to fit lawful conduct with which political opponents disagree. If they are allowed to be stretched today to cover your political enemies, they could be stretched tomorrow to go after your political friends.

The debate over the propriety of the president’s actions, about which I have opined repeatedly, should continue but let’s take the allegations of criminal obstruction of justice out of this important debate. There is more than enough fodder for a debate over the merits and demerits of the president’s actions without muddying the waters with politically-motivated charges of criminality.

Partisanship seems to have no limits these days. Both parties are equally at fault, as are extremists among the public and within the media. It is getting harder and harder to have a nuanced debate about complex political issues. Everything is either evil or good. Nothing has elements of both. Actions either deserve criminal indictment or the Nobel Prize.

Nobody benefits from this kind of ideological shouting match. So let’s agree to disagree about important issues, but let’s not distort the debate with extremist slogans like “lock her up” or “obstruction of justice.” We are better than that.

Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law” and “Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for the Unaroused Voter.”

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Obama on trump in the past.

Here’s the full excerpt:

[Americans have] a continuing normative commitment to the ideals of individual freedom and mobility, values that extend far beyond the issue of race in the American mind. The depth of this commitment may be summarily dismissed as the unfounded optimism of the average American—I may not be Donald Trump now, but just you wait; if I don’t make it, my children will.

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Making america great again

Obama’s spokesman said the day of remembrance was scrapped so the Black Lives Matter movement wouldn’t be offended. Apparently it’s more important for the friends and families of criminals killed for not obeying simple commands to be coddled than it is for the families and friends of the brave men and women who run into harm’s way to save the innocent to be honored.

President Trump has righted that wrong once and for all. If the Black Lives Matter movement wants to remember their dead they can go ahead and burn down their neighborhoods. The families of fallen police will join together in laughter, grief and prayer remembering those they lost.

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