As noted in at least one previous blog posted here, there is the sense that SP Mueller will first, come forward with an obstruction of justice charge against Trump. That sense has grown based on what can be gathered from the evidence and testimony that Mueller continues to collect. Using that background to provide context, let’s take a closer look at how “obstruction of justice” is define, legally and then proceed on from there.
Obstruction of justice: “whoever….corruptly or by threat of force…influences, obstructs or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due administration of justice” (which must be undertaken with) ‘specific intent’ “.
Now, there is no question that 45 has influenced, obstructed and impeded the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in our 2016 election. His course of action began with the firing of the Bureau’s Director, James Comey which Trump admitted was about “…the Russia thing”, and subsequently involved multiple other instances of the same sort of obstructionist behavior. But, was there clear evidence of specific (corrupt) intent? Here is where things get “sticky”.
The SP, can take all of 45’s obstructionist’s acts and claim, that in aggregate, they reflect “corrupt intent”. But that involves drawing an inference about Trump’s state of mind from his behavior. A good defense lawyer would counter with the justifiable assertion that lacking direct evidence of criminal intent, there must be a reasonable doubt as to its’ existence.
To deny Trump’s defense that “out”, it is reasonable to assume that a seasoned prosecutor like Mueller will do all that he can to get to Trump’s state of mind which is to say, his intention. The very best way to do that is to get the president under oath, in front of a grand jury and press him with questions that go to the heart of motive. In other words, get the witness, in his own words, to give himself away.
Thus far, Trump’s legal team has done everything they can to avoid just such a scenario, fearing that their man lacks the discipline to avoid making self-incriminating statements. In contrast, Mueller knows that any obstruction case he brings will be stronger if he can collect testimony from 45 while under oath. So, expect that sooner or later, Trump will either volunteer for such a tete a tete, or be subpoenaed into engaging in same.
Is there any sort of time-line when we might expect such things to happen? Yes, there is. Consider: Mueller must operate under Department of Justice guidelines that dictate that any public action like the issuance of a subpoena, or the filing of a public report or the bringing of criminal charges, must occur well ahead of any election that might be impacted by such events. Given that framework, we can expect that the SP will either come forward with something by early this September, or hold off until after the coming midterm has taken place.
The view taken here is that Mueller has already built a solid obstruction case with criminal intent based on inference of the latter drawn from repeated instances of Trump’s behavior. That he has not come forward to date with that charge is likely a product of the SP’s desire to get 45’s testimony under oath, thinking that this could make his case stronger.
Given the “early September” time-frame cited above, here is what to look for within the next three months: Somewhere near midpoint, Trump’s testimony will be collected whether voluntarily or through the force of a subpoena. Whatever the case, that would leave Mueller with approximately six weeks to incorporate 45’s testimony into a final report on the obstruction of justice case and make it public, two full months ahead of the midterms. However, as the “early September” time draws neigh, if the Trump sit-down with the SP has not taken place, don’t be surprised if the obstruction charge isn’t filled until after the election.Soooo…..
Keep you eye on both Mueller and the calendar.