President Trump has been telling everyone who will listen that Robert Mueller exonerated him on charges of obstruction of justice, despite the Mueller report saying literally the exact opposite thing. Even Fox News is calling him out on it.
“When the president asked Corey Lewandowski … to get Mueller fired, that’s obstruction of justice,” said Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano. “When the president asked his then-White House counsel to get Mueller fired and then lie about it, that’s obstruction of justice.”
Napolitano, in fact, walked through several instances of what he characterized as clear obstruction.
Fox News judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano: "When the president asked Corey Lewandowski … to get Mueller fired, that's obstruction of justice. When the president asked his then-White House counsel to get Mueller fired & then lie about it, that's obstruction of justice." pic.twitter.com/5k3dSpD76v
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 25, 2019
In a blistering op-ed for the president’s favorite network, Napolitano points not only to the evidence that justice was obstructed but why that justice might’ve been obstructed — to prevent Michael Flynn from telling investigators that he discussed sanctions relief with Russia on Trump’s orders.
“Obstruction is a rare crime that is rarely completed,” he wrote. “The obstructer need not succeed in order to be charged with obstruction. That’s because the statute itself prohibits attempting to impede or interfere with any government proceeding for a corrupt or self-serving purpose.”
It’s worth noting, as Napolitano does, that Trump doesn’t need to be guilty of the underlying crime (in this case, criminal conspiracy) to be guilty of obstructing the investigation into that crime. He draws comparison to another television personality, Martha Stewart, who was found guilty of obstructing an investigation into insider trading despite the actual insider trading charge being dismissed.
Napolitano also took issue with another tack President Trump has taken recently, specifically claiming that there are no impeachable offenses posed by the Mueller report. Napolitano pointed out that in both major impeachments in recent history, of Presidents Nixon and Clinton, obstruction of justice was a core component of the argument.
In fact, a compelling argument can be made that the Mueller probe’s findings are tantamount to one long charging document referred to the House of Representatives, which is not unprecedented.
Despite this, and the constitutional role of Congress on impeachment questions, Trump has vowed to go to the Supreme Court if the House attempts impeachment, despite the Supreme Court having no Constitutional role in the impeachment process.
It should be noted, however, that Trump has solidified a Republican majority on the Court and has been extremely confident in its political support of him in the past. His work in this regard has already paid dividends. But he is similarly optimistic about the support he receives from Fox and that did little to quell their legal expert’s savaging.
“The president’s job is to enforce federal law,” wrote Napolitano. “If he had ordered its violation to save innocent life or preserve human freedom, he would have a moral defense. But ordering obstruction to save himself from the consequences of his own behavior is unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.”
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.