Obstruction of Justice and the President
Obstruction of Justice: A felony under federal Law.
According to the official record, Obstruction of Justice has been the core of the last two articles of impeachment brought against American Presidents Clinton and Nixon. The currently appointed Special Counsel Investigator, Robert S. Mueller III, is carrying out a broad investigation of links between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, and any matters that arose subsequently to the election in relation to that association. That includes current charges of obstruction of Justice that Trump has incurred related to his firing of FBI Director Comey on May 9. This is my attempt to try to organize the structure and meaning of obstruction of justice as a legal concept related to that investigation.
My concern is that too much has been made of the hyperbolic features of this President. Yes, to many of us, he appears both erratic and incompetent. But the larger issue overshadowing those features — leadership features that have brought about reams of, to me, hyperbolic description of the person himself from those who are understandably aghast by his sudden ascendancy — has to do with standing in resistance against what also appears to be an accelerating, ill-conceived effort to deconstruct years of work towards putting in place of a carefully structured oligarchy by Founders who were the propertied elite of their day, democratic policies and institutions. These were necessary to put in place because of a Constitution that was, to begin with, a poor effort at creating a truly democratic social arrangement in what’s come to be called the United States of America. We the People kept discovering these deficiencies and, at the grass roots level, so to speak, began efforts, time after time over the past two centuries, to correct them.
In response to over two centuries of democratic correction, what’s now occurring appears to be an accelerating expansion of a developing inverted totalitarian rule by what has come to be called the “one percent”, with the current president as a very visible member of that group, elected under circumstances intractably set up by the Constitution that are in their very nature, undemocratic. In Trump’s case, this effort is being accomplished in the name of “restoring” something ambiguously described by him throughout his election campaign and so far through his brief reign, as American greatness.
So, to resist — and I consider myself a member of those who resist — is to resist this oligarchic-inspired reversion to what I see as a deeply entrenched oligarchic structure that we have so doggedly dragged ourselves out of over the years. The “truthful hyperbole” of Trump’s sales pitch — that he wants to “make America great again” — barely disguises his true intent: that he wants to restore the original intent of those who set this nation up for a specific group of property owning white males, like himself.
My hope is to inform myself about the law of obstruction so I can articulate the seriousness of this charge to anyone I happen to talk with about this subject.
Federal laws defining obstruction of justice are found in Title 18, sections 1501 through 1521 of the United States Code. In looking at those sections, one can see they define 21 separate obstruction crimes.
Robert Mueller will be looking at the accumulated evidence, as it has been accumulated so far, and as it will be as his investigation unfolds, in an attempt to discover if anything President Trump has done (and may continue to do) can be legally defined as obstruction of justice.
Bill Blum, a former judge and death penalty defense attorney, now a writer, has provided me with a lot of legwork in paring down the legalities of Obstruction of Justice. Here are three of his most recent articles, all focused on Obstruction of Justice (Please note: although for some inexplicable to me the following do not appear as links like all the others in this post, they are actually links, and each can be clicked on to get to the article at their source):