A former US attorney general stated this week that President Obama could be guilty of obstruction of justice in the Hillary Clinton email scandal.
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey told Fox Business Network this week that President Obama’s statement that he believed Clinton should not be charged because there was no intention to violate the law, could be the real obstruction the Clinton case.
Mukasey argued that Obama was introducing an element that does not exist in the statute: to be aware that you are in violation of the law. He was implying, Mukasey said, that this is how he wanted the criminal investigation to end. It is clear that the Department of Justice got the message, the former AG alleged.
Because Democrats decided to use the former FBI director to wage attacks on the Trump administration, they may have opened up a real can of legal worms for the Obama administration.
When Comey was questioned under oath, he revealed several possibly damning incidents where Obama’s team may have caused political interference with the Clinton email inquiry. That is why the Senate is now investigating Obama and his administration for possible obstruction of justice.
The findings of the Senate Judiciary Committee are usually important because it is a very powerful panel. It is speculated that it could eventually lead to another criminal investigation and another special counsel being named. That, some say, could be what the current president needs to distract public attention from his growing legal issues.
In his testimony earlier this month ex-FBI director James Comey stated that Obama AG Loretta Lynch requested that he call the Clinton email probe a ‘matter,’ and not an investigation. But Mukasey stated that this is not in violation of the law. He noted that this in his view is not obstruction because Lynch was simply saying the same thing that the Clinton campaign said.
President Trump Blasts Lynch
President Donald Trump, however, thinks otherwise. Trump announced on Twitter this week that Lynch, in his opinion, was guilty of a crime, and gave Clinton a ‘free pass and protection.’ Trump believes that Lynch was trying to give Clinton political cover so that the simmering email scandal in the middle of a contentious political campaign would be put to bed for good.
Comey also testified that Lynch would not recuse herself from the email case after Comey talked to her about a clandestine June 2016 meeting she conducted with Bill Clinton; this meeting occurred a mere five days before Hillary Clinton was supposed to be interviewed by the FBI.
There are also questions that Lynch may have privately assured Clinton that FBI agents would not probe too far into the email scandal. This was according to a message that the FBI unearthed that involved former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. If this were true, it is possible that Lynch could face a criminal investigation.
According to congressional staffers on background, Lynch will probably be called to testify under oath about the allegations that Comey has made. Likely topics to be probed are what she and Bill Clinton discussed, whether the email investigation came up in conversation, and why she declined to recuse herself.
Meanwhile, Diane Feinstein, the Democratic senator from California, stated that she wants to initiate an investigation into Lynch’s statement. This makes it more difficult to portray the inquiry as mere partisan fish expeditions. These comments from a leading Democrat senator may provide Republicans with the political dover needed to pursue the Comey leads.
Mukasey has said that calling the incident simply a ‘matter’ is just the tip of the iceberg. He believes that there could be plenty of additional wrongdoing that a special prosecutor could investigate.
At that point, Mukasey argued, the matter is to understand why DOJ failed to appoint a grand jury in the case. Why did they interview her at the very end of the inquiry, and Comey came out with his statement exonerating her two days later? Mukasey concluded that the investigation into the Clinton email scandal was very un-serious in nature.
Trump Also Accuses Obama of Obstruction in Russia Inquiry
Trump was not finished this week with unloading on Obama, either. He told the Washington Post that Obama had taken no action against Russia for its alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election because he was certain Hillary Clinton would prevail.
Trump later tweeted that the reason Obama did not do anything about Russia after he was told by the CIA of election meddling is that he thought Clinton was going to win. He did not want to ‘rock the boat,’ Trump alleged.
Trump continued via Twitter that the ‘real story’ about Russia is that Obama did not do anything after he was told in October 2016 about possible Russian meddling in US elections.
Trump’s heated allegations about both matters are coming as he continues to face several investigations into whether his presidential campaign colluded with the Russians during the 2016 election. The US intelligence community believes that Moscow engaged in some interference in the election to help Trump.
The DOJ, FBI and Senate and House Intelligence committees are continuing to investigate possible connections between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign team.
Obstruction of Justice Charges Still Unproven
While no obstruction of justice federal charges have been made, it is serious that federal authorities are looking into these matters regarding the emails and Russia. Obstruction of justice is viewed differently from many crimes because it does not deal with harm to property or persons. However, obstruction of justice is a phrase used to describe many crimes that may be committed by those in government power.
There are statutes at the state and federal levels that deal with these crimes. Laws covering both levels of obstruction of justice have been in place for decades and centuries, in some cases.
For anyone to be convicted of obstruction of justice, three things must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
- There was some type of proceeding where justice could be obstructed
- There exists a link between the attempts of the defendant to obstruct and such proceedings
- The defendant was aware of the link
One of the most difficult aspects of proving obstruction of justice is that the defendant has the right to plead the 5th Amendment. This is one’s constitutional right to not answer questions if the answers could show criminal liability.
Someone who is convicted of obstruction of justice can face up to 20 years in federal prison, per the federal sentencing guidelines.