A 20-page letter from President Trump’s criminal defense lawyers just leaked in a bombshell story by the New York Times. The letter exposed Special Counsel Mueller’s most damning evidence of obstruction of justice against Donald Trump.
The President’s attorneys have been arguing rather unsuccessfully to the Special Counsel for nearly a year that a President cannot obstruct justice, while Mueller’s team has interviewed all of his closest associates.
Now, the Times’ blockbuster story has identified what statements Mueller’s investigators consider Trump’s most self-incriminating public statement, and the letter delivers a preview of his legal arguments to spin the unspinnable:
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Mr. Trump’s lawyers also try to untangle another potential piece of evidence in the obstruction investigation: his assertion, during an interview with Lester Holt of NBC two days after Mr. Comey was fired, that he was thinking while he weighed the dismissal that “this Russia thing” had no validity.
Mr. Mueller’s investigators view that statement as damning, according to people familiar with the investigation.
In an unguarded moment, President Trump candidly told Holt:
“I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
Criminal defense lawyer John Dowd – who dramatically departed Trump’s legal team when the president ignored his advice- argues in the “leaked” letter to Mueller that Trump’s feeble attempts at recovery during the Holt interview are sufficient to clear him.
Dowd wrote that when Trump completed his thoughts about Russia with a calculated lie about wanting a proper investigation into his campaign’s collusion with Putin’s agents. But even that lie betrays
“As far as I’m concerned, I want that thing [the Russia investigation] to be absolutely done properly. When I did this now, I said I probably maybe will confuse people.
Maybe I’ll expand that- you know, I’ll lengthen the time because it should be over with. It should — in my opinion, should’ve been over with a long time ago because it — all it is an excuse. But I said to myself I might even lengthen out the investigation.”
The federal obstruction of justice statute makes is a crime to attempt to impede an investigation, in other words, to make it last longer than it should, for some corrupt purpose.
One simple example of a corrupt purpose would be the President using the special access his office confers, to string out the investigation for political reasons to keep from disrupting his governing agenda
What is more damning about the criminal defense by Trump’s lawyers is that it is a criminal act to seek any form of improper influence over a potential grand jury investigation and Trump plainly says that his actions will cause confusion.
That’s why Trump’s criminal defense team goes way past the obvious arguments as to why they think Trump didn’t obstruct justice into Nixonian territory, pushing a bunk legal theory that the President can’t obstruct, which has never once survived a single test in court by him or any president since.
While the President complained about his attorney’s letter leaking, the most likely source of the leak was his own current legal team, seeking to take their case to the court of public opinion, since they’re not prepared for a real courtroom under the “leadership” of Rudy Giuliani.
And the leaked letter amply demonstrates that Mueller doesn’t need Trump’s testimony to file a criminal indictment for obstruction of justice or to issue a damning report to Congress that will ultimately lead to his impeachment from office.
Watch the entire, damning interview with NBC’s Lester Holt here: