Trump Begged Comey to Stop Investigating Flynn
Donald Trump asked former F.B.I. Director James Comey, to drop the investigation into disgraced former national security advisor, Michael Flynn. This was a clear and bold attempt to manipulate the investigations into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Unfortunately for Trump, his vanity disallows him from recognizing the appearance of impropriety or illegality in requesting Comey not pursue justice. Trump truly acts as if the rule of law does not apply to the individual holding the highest office. Former director Comey, known for taking meticulous notes, recorded his conversations with Trump via written memoranda. These memos serve as the foundation for the latest wild White House news.
Comey started writing these memos directly following his encounters with Trump, because he 'did not believe Trump engaged in fact-based dialogue.' In this regard, Comey should be viewed as an honest documentarian who worked to preserve the integrity of the White House and domestic intelligence agencies, one memo at a time. Comey has a history of transcribing notes to memorialize controversial issues that he is involved. Revelations of Trump disclosing 'highly sensitive' classified information to Russian diplomats are frightening.
Comey was cornered by Trump after a national security meeting. Immediately following the meeting, Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence to exit along with the other meeting attendees. Once alone with Comey, Trump asked (according to Comey's memo), "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go. [Flynn's] a good guy. I hope you can let this go." This eliminates ambiguity and reflects a desire from the White House for the FBI to wrap up the Russia investigation fast enough to move on to matters that will not highlight Trump's credibility issues.
Though the timing of Comey's public disclosure seems suspect, career intelligence and law enforcement officials have universally supported Comey's recollection of events. Politicians on both sides of the aisle affirmed Comey's history of taking thorough notes and keeping accurate records. Despite Comey's poor handling of the Clinton investigation, Comey has always been viewed as a responsible, nonpartisan, capable, law enforcement professional. The same deference cannot be directed toward the Trump administration due to endless scandals sabotaging the administration's credibility. Thus, despite Trump's denial of Comey's memory of the meetings, Trump has not demonstrated an ability to provide truthful information when under pressure. Trump's lack of poise in these situations has plagued his ability to enact meaningful legislation or move past bad press.
Trump's combustible behavior has effectively created a series of daily gaffes that flood media streams, with the latest incarnation appearing in the form of obstruction of justice.
Note, it is not only a violation of legal ethics for Trump to request (whether directly or indirectly) an investigation into HIM to cease, but it is the epitome of obstruction of justice. Prior to the knowledge of Comey's memos, Trump's unorthodox way of governing, including his apathy towards rules, was excused away and ignored by Republican party loyalists. But recent events have encouraged many Republicans to reconsider their blind commitment to Trump, namely:
• Obstructing justice by firing the FBI director
• Lying about the reason for his firing
• Undermining White House staff
• Asking the lead investigator (who's investigating him) to stop investigating
• Last but not least, sharing sensitive, classified material with the Russians (without permission to share from the source)
Beyond representing obstruction of justice, Trump's intrusive behavior intended to undermine the FBI's investigation, equate to an abuse of executive power. Trump's decision to fire former Director Comey, after demanding Comey's loyalty and not receiving it, can only be summed up as obstruction of justice.
Obstruction of justice is defined as "corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice." However, to convict a person(s) of obstruction of justice, it must be proved they "not only have the specific intent to obstruct the proceeding, but the person must know (1) that a proceeding was actually pending at the time; and (2) there must be a nexus between the defendant’s endeavor to obstruct justice and the proceeding, and the defendant must have knowledge of this nexus."