Democrats Are Hoping This Is Watergate – But In Reality Comey’s Testimony Turned Out To Be A Huge ‘Nothing Burger’

Many were anticipating that #ComeyDay would be the most monumental congressional hearing in decades, but the truth is that it turned out to be quite a dud. During two and a half hours of testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI Director James Comey didn’t tell us anything that we don’t already know. Of course liberal news outlets such as CNN are breathlessly proclaiming that we are now “in Nixon territory”, but that isn’t accurate at all. There is absolutely no evidence that President Trump committed any crime, and there is absolutely nothing that warrants impeachment.

And I am far from alone in that assessment. For example, an analysis published by CNBC says that nothing in Comey’s testimony was “powerful enough to end the Trump presidency literally or figuratively”…

“Former FBI Director James Comey’s Senate testimony Thursday will indeed have a big political impact in Washington. It will foster more partisan bitterness and more bad feelings about our political process and news media. But none of his testimony rises to the level of anything legally powerful enough to end the Trump presidency literally or figuratively.

The bottom line is that Comey spent a few hours Thursday telling the Senate committee that he felt uncomfortable and even stunned by President Trump’s behavior. And he peppered that narrative with numerous damaging statements about the president’s behavior and character, including basically calling him a liar”

When Comey accused Trump of being a liar, that certainly made a lot of headlines, but unless you are under oath it is not a crime to lie.

Perhaps we should make it a crime for our politicians to lie, because if we did we would clean out the toilet that Washington D.C. has become rather quickly. But as it stands, even if Trump is a low-down dirty liar as Comey is claiming, that would simply put Trump on the same level as most of the current members of Congress.

The much more important question is whether or not Trump committed obstruction of justice. Fortunately for Trump, there is a very clear answer to that question.

First of all, we must remember that Trump was Comey’s boss. As chief executive, Trump has constitutional power to direct the activities of his subordinates, and he is free to fire them whenever he chooses. So, as Alan Dershowitz just pointed out on CNN, Trump cannot be impeached for simply exercising his constitutional authority…

Renowned Harvard professor and legal mind Alan Dershowitz sparked quite a reaction during a CNN segment on Wednesday night after he proclaimed that former FBI director James Comey’s prepared testimony indicates that President Donald Trump didn’t commit any crimes.

Dershowitz argued that Trump “could have told Comey, ‘You are commanded, directed to drop the investigation against [Gen. Michael] Flynn,’” but noted that he didn’t do so, according to Comey’s prepared testimony that was published on Wednesday.

The famed attorney also said Trump could have pardoned Flynn as well, but also chose not to do so. In the end, he concluded that there appears to be no criminal activity on the part of the president, particularly when it comes to obstruction of justice claims.

Traditionally, the FBI has operated in a highly independent manner, but there is nothing in the law that gives the FBI independent status.

If Congress wants to pass a law to remove the FBI from being under the president’s authority they can certainly do that, but as it stands what Trump did was fully within the law.

But even if Trump didn’t have the authority, there would still be no obstruction of justice. The two most important federal statutes that cover obstruction of justice are 18 U.S.C. § 1503 and 18 U.S.C. § 1505. In both cases, it would be exceedingly difficult for prosecutors to prove that Trump acted “corruptly” in this case. Not only that, there was no “proceeding” that Trump was trying to influence. For a more extended analysis, please see the article that I posted yesterday entitled “Even If Everything James Comey Is Claiming Is True, There Is Still No Evidence That Trump Is Guilty Of Any Crime”.

If Comey is being straight with us, and at this point his credibility is pretty much shot, but if he is being straight with us there is still nothing that is going to end Trump’s presidency.

What Trump did may have been “inappropriate”, but you don’t impeach a president for being “inappropriate”.

In the aftermath of Comey’s testimony, Trump’s attorney said that the president feels “completely and totally vindicated”

President Donald Trump’s private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, on Wednesday said his client felt “completely and totally vindicated” by James Comey’s prepared opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Comey’s remarks, released Wednesday in advance of Thursday’s Senate hearing, confirmed previous statements by Trump that Comey had told him three times that he was not personally being investigated amid the FBI’s wide-ranging inquiry into Russian meddling in the election and the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

Personally, I hope that this whole “scandal” will go away now. There never was anything to it in the first place, and the American people want a government that is going to focus on solving problems instead of focusing on investigations that were doomed to go absolutely nowhere from the start.

But even if this Comey angle doesn’t work out, the Democrats will just keep on trying. In fact, the Huffington Post is already starting to promote the theory that Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement is an impeachable offense.

In the end, the Democrats are never going to give up until they find something that they can use against Trump. What I am hearing is that they are going to make an all-out push to take back the House and the Senate in 2018, and if they can do that they plan to use their congressional majorities to get rid of Trump one way or another.

This is just another reason why the 2018 mid-term elections are going to be the most important mid-term elections in modern American history, because if the Democrats have their way Trump will never even make it to 2020.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Even If Everything James Comey Is Claiming Is True, There Is Still No Evidence That Trump Is Guilty Of Any Crime

Democrats are hoping that the testimony that former FBI Director James Comey will deliver on Thursday will be enough to take Donald Trump down for good.  Comey released a written preview of his testimony on Wednesday, and it was obviously intended to draw even more attention to what is already being described as “the most highly-anticipated Congressional hearing in decades”.  CNN is breathlessly declaring that “James Comey just went nuclear on Donald Trump”, and Texas Democratic Representative Al Green is already planning to draft articles of impeachment even though the testimony hasn’t even happened yet.  Unfortunately for those that would like to see Trump go, even if every single thing that James Comey is claiming is true (and that is a very big “if”), there is still no evidence that Trump is guilty of any crime.

There are many other things that we could discuss, but the core of this case is going to come down to a conversation that Trump and Flynn had on February 14th

Former FBI Director James Comey said President Donald Trump asked him to drop the agency’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael 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,” Comey said Trump told him in an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 14.

The Democrats think that they can nail Trump to the wall with this.  According to former White House ethics czar Norman Eisen, this testimony by Comey “is the equivalent of the Nixon tapes”

Eisen compared the news revealed in Comey’s testimony to former President Richard Nixon’s secret recording of his phone calls in meetings at the White House when he was in office, which eventually played a role in his resignation.

“This moves us into the same realm as Nixon’s obstruction, maybe worse,” he continued. “This is the equivalent of the Nixon tapes. We are headed into very, very choppy waters.”

And CNN’s “senior legal analyst” Jeffrey Toobin seems to be convinced that what Trump did was clearly “obstruction of justice”

“There is a criminal investigation going on of one of the President’s top associations … he gets fired, he is under under investigation and the President brings in the FBI Director and says ‘please stop your investigation,'” said CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

“If that isn’t obstruction of justice, I don’t know what is,” Toobin said.

I don’t know what law school Toobin attended, but he is clearly wrong on this point.

There are several federal statutes that could apply in this case, but the most important one is 18 U.S.C. § 1505.  In order for obstruction of justice to be proven under 18 U.S.C. § 1505, there are a number of elements that must be clearly established.  In this case, prosecutors would have an exceedingly difficult time proving that Trump acted “corruptly”, but the even bigger problem would be the fact that there was no “proceeding” taking place at the time.

This is what 18 U.S.C. § 1505 says…

Whoever, with intent to avoid, evade, prevent, or obstruct compliance, in whole or in part, with any civil investigative demand duly and properly made under the Antitrust Civil Process Act, willfully withholds, misrepresents, removes from any place, conceals, covers up, destroys, mutilates, alters, or by other means falsifies any documentary material, answers to written interrogatories, or oral testimony, which is the subject of such demand;  or attempts to do so or solicits another to do so;  or

Whoever 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 and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress–

Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.

And some of the greatest minds in the legal world agree with me that there is no obstruction of justice in this case.  For example, consider what George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley recently had to say about this

There are dozens of different variations of obstruction charges ranging from threatening witnesses to influencing jurors. None would fit this case. That leaves the omnibus provision on attempts to interfere with the “due administration of justice.”

However, that still leaves the need to show that the effort was to influence “corruptly” when Trump could say that he did little but express concern for a longtime associate. The term “corruptly” is actually defined differently under the various obstruction provisions, but it often involves a showing that someone acted “with the intent to secure an unlawful benefit for oneself or another.” Encouraging leniency or advocating for an associate is improper but not necessarily seeking an unlawful benefit for him.

Then there is the question of corruptly influencing what? There is no indication of a grand jury proceeding at the time of the Valentine’s Day meeting between Trump and Comey. Obstruction cases generally are built around judicial proceedings — not Oval Office meetings.

And Alan Dershowitz is also convinced that there is no way to prove obstruction of justice in this case…

Finally, there is the allegation of obstruction of justice growing out of President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and his alleged request to Comey to “let it go” with regard to his fired national security advisor Michael Flynn. None of this, in my view, rises to the level of criminal obstruction, because all of the president’s actions were within his constitutional and statutory authority. But even if it were a crime, it is unlikely that a sitting president could be indicted and prosecuted for what is alleged against Trump.

Turley and Dershowitz are both extremely liberal, but at least they are honest enough to give us a balanced assessment of what the law actually says on these matters.

If Comey is being accurate, Trump’s conversations with him may have been inappropriate, but no crimes were committed.

Of course that isn’t going to stop the Democrats from trying to impeach him.  If this current angle fails, I am hearing that they are planning an all-out push to get rid of Trump if they are able to take back both the House and the Senate in 2018.  Let us hope that does not happen, because it is extremely difficult to be an effective president with the threat of possible impeachment constantly hanging over you.

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