Why Comey’s Evidence Is Enough for an Obstruction of Justice Case Against Trump

In a surprise move, Wednesday evening the Senate Intelligence Committee posted former FBI Director James Comey's prepared opening remarks online, the night before he was set to appear in front of the committee at a public hearing in the Trump Russia probe.

In his remarks, Comey documents several meetings with President Trump, during which Trump asked for his loyalty, asked him to drop the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and made Comey suitably uncomfortable that he felt compelled to document every interaction he had with the President.


Particularly damning for Trump is Comey's recollection of their February 14th meeting, during which Trump asked him to drop the probe into Flynn:

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

And then an April 11th phone call during which Trump asked Comey how to make public that he was not under investigation:

'Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.' I did not reply or ask him what he meant by 'that thing.' I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended."

Many feel that what Comey reveals in his opening testimony alone is grounds for an obstruction of justice case against Donald Trump.

In a Washington Post Op-Ed Thursday morning, Philip Allen Lacovara, former counsel to Watergate special prosecutors, draws a direct comparison between Trump's actions and Richard Nixon:

Comey proved what Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers carefully avoided admitting in their testimony on Wednesday — that the president had specifically attempted to shut off at least a major piece of what Trump calls the “Russia thing,” the investigation into the misleading statements by fired national security adviser Michael Flynn concerning his role in dealings with the Russians. This kind of presidential intervention in a pending criminal investigation has not been seen, to my knowledge, since the days of Richard Nixon and Watergate.

Former ethics czar under President Obama, Norm Eisen, concurs, saying on CNN that "This moves us into the same realm as Nixon's obstruction, maybe worse."

This is an important comparison since the first article of impeachment drawn up against Nixon, which ultimately led to his resignation from office, was obstruction of justice.

Lacovara concludes:

Comey’s statement lays out a case against the president that consists of a tidy pattern, beginning with the demand for loyalty, the threat to terminate Comey’s job, the repeated requests to turn off the investigation into Flynn and the final infliction of career punishment for failing to succumb to the president’s requests, all followed by the president’s own concession about his motive. Any experienced prosecutor would see these facts as establishing a prima facie case of obstruction of justice.

Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS News this morning that "If you were prosecuting a case of obstruction, you would admit the entirety of James Comey's testimony."

Or as Schiff put it on Twitter:

Chris Hayes summed up where we are ahead of Comey's testimony:

Comey's testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee is set to begin at 10:00AM on Thursday, June 8 and will be streamed live here.

CNN video/Win McNamee/Getty Images

Maine's Democratic primary is slated for March 3.

The vote will determine who faces off against Senator Susan Collins in November.

Keep reading...
ABC/The View

President Donald Trump has made no effort to keep his thoughts on the trial of his former advisor, Roger Stone, a secret.

Stone was convicted of lying to Congress, obstructing justice, and threatening a witness last year. When prosecutors recommended a seven to nine year prison sentence, Trump fumed on Twitter and the Justice Department subsequently overrode the opinion of its prosecutors, who resigned in response.

Today, Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his crimes, leading everyone to ask: Will Trump pardon one of his most vocal allies?

Keep reading...
Chris Graythen/Getty Images // Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With 2.4 billion active users, Facebook has become a breeding ground for disinformation. Misleading or outright false allegations played an unignorable part of the assault on the 2016 election and a number of lawmakers say Facebook isn't doing enough to curtail fake news ahead of 2020.

Now a recent Washington Post report detailing Facebook's response to fake news pages after President Donald Trump's shocking victory in 2016 is raising even more concerns.

Keep reading...
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Republicans often claim their party has the upper hand with voters when it comes to fiscal responsibility. When a Democrat is in office, one of the chief complaints you can count on from Republican lawmakers is that the President is ballooning the deficit, or sending the federal debt skyward.

This hasn't quite been the case when it's a Republican President occupying the White House.

Keep reading...
NBC News

Contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination debated in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday ahead of the state's primary in the most confrontational debate yet.

Present on the debate stage for the first time was billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a late entry to the campaign whose advertising blitz helped contribute to his rise in the polls, despite having yet to appear on a primary ballot.

Keep reading...
Leon Neal/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's constant trips to his own golf properties around the globe has been a matter of some controversy since he took office in 2017.

A constant critic of President Barack Obama's golf outings—which unlike Trump Obama did not personally profit from—the 45th POTUS claimed he would be too busy working to ever play golf.

Keep reading...