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Mueller Should Beware of Obstruction of Justice

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Mueller Should Beware of Obstruction of Justice

Mueller Should Beware of Obstruction of Justice
July 27
16:53 2018

The investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller can be fairly compared to Chevy Chase in the National Lampoon movie “Vacation.” In traveling to the Disney-like Wally’s World, Chase is frequently off on side trips that not only distract from his primary travel mission – but the delays result in the mythical amusement park being closed when he and his family arrive.

Behind the general mandate to investigate Russian meddling in the 2018 presidential election was a more specific purpose – and that was to establish criminal collusion between Russian operatives and the Trump Campaign. That is what the #NeverTrump community saw as the primary objective and the one thing that they hoped would get Trump impeached.

After almost two years of multiple investigations – and the peripheral indictments of Trump campaign people and a significant number of Russian operatives – there has been no evidence of criminal collusion on the part of the presidential campaign. In fact, the Russian indictments specifically eliminated any participation by American citizens.

The growing recognition that the criminal collusion accusations are unfounded has led to a shift to questions of perjury and obstruction of justice. The hope of tripping Trump into a perjury trap has been diminished by the likelihood that he will not agree to be interviewed by the Mueller team. That leaves obstruction of justice. As the theory goes … Trump’s protestations of innocence and his complaints about an investigation have risen to the level of obstruction of justice.

If Mueller wanted to fulfill Vladimir Putin’s dream of sowing chaos in American society, charging the President with obstruction would be the way to do it.

The first problem is that obstruction of justice is a crime that is largely in the eye of the beholder. There first has to be convincing obstructive actions, which in this case are largely subject to interpretation. It is safe to assume that the anti-Trump folks will readily make that assumption and the Trump supporters will reject it.

The second challenge is even more vexing. It must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knew he was committing obstruction. There has to be intent. It is all about the accused’s frame of mind – and that can only be deduced by opinions based on the careful crafting of specious evidence.

There is an important third consideration that is not a matter of law, but a matter of fairness. Most Americans are not entirely comfortable with charging a person with perjury or obstruction where there was no underlying crime. Lying about participation in a crime that did not exist or obstructing justice where there was no justice to be had, just does not seem right.

While the sentiment against such secondary indictments is general in nature, it would have a much bigger impact when such actions are taken against a President of the United States. It would appear to many to be a very malicious political action designed to undermine an election.

Given the eye-of-the-beholder nature of the charges, such action could incite a divisive public rage not seen since the 1960s or maybe not seen since the Civil War. Half the nation would be clamoring for the gallows and the other half would be defending their president from a virtual political assassination. The issue would limp on through the courts for years to come – well past the 2020 election. In the meantime, it could get pretty ugly out there.

Yet, there is every evidence that Mueller sees success as hanging Trump’s golden scalp on his prosecutorial belt. If there is no proof of criminal collusion, one can only hope that Mueller will use his prosecutorial discretion to limit his investigation to its primary purpose – and that is to address the issue of Russian meddling. Without the primary crime of criminal collusion, Mueller should put aside any and all considerations regarding the obstruction of justice gambit. It would be a Pyrrhic political victory, to say the least.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Dr_RWM
    Dr_RWM July 30, 17:27

    Good article, Larry. It’s too bad that Mueller and his ilk would rather destroy the country on an innocuous obstruction charge that will destabilize the country. He is literally playing right into the Russians’ hands (who actually preferred Hillary in the first place).

    Reply to this comment
  2. Pat
    Pat July 30, 20:09

    Mueller was given a rather specific charge. You cannot change that. Neither can he. He has not yet finished his work. It’s as simple as that.

    Reply to this comment
  3. hondian
    hondian July 30, 22:07

    What’s going on is am impeachment investigation by the justice department. According to Professor Alan Morton Dershowitz, collusion is not a crime. He offered $10,000 to Mueller if he could show him that collusion is illegal. No response from anyone. Stop the waste of money.

    Reply to this comment
  4. dlk
    dlk July 31, 05:20

    POTUS should declassify all documents – We, The People are better equipped to make a decision re guilt or innocence than partisan politicians and prosecutors. He needs to expose this farce completely, once and for all…and then shut it down.

    Reply to this comment

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