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The link is to a long article that shows the faulty legal argument that mueller attempted to use to afix ‘obstruction’ to anything and everything President Trump did or said.
Checkmate. How President Trump’s legal team outfoxed Mueller
…At the end of Volume II of the Mueller Report, however, there were 20 pages of genuinely new material.
There, the former FBI director turned Special Counsel Robert Mueller defended his “Application of Obstruction-Of-Justice Statutes To The President.” These overlooked 20 pages were dedicated to defending Mueller’s interpretation of a single subsection of a single obstruction-of-justice statute: 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2)….
This is a story about a legal chess match played for the highest stakes imaginable: Trump’s Presidency – and whether it would be under the cloud of an endless special counsel investigation – hinged on the result.
The dispute was a year-long struggle over the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2)…
All the same, Trump’s legal team prevailed on February 14, 2019.
That’s the day William Pelham Barr was confirmed as United States Attorney General.
So why, exactly, was the interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) so contested?
Let’s start by looking the statute, excerpted here:
(c) Whoever corruptly—
(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or
(2) otherwise obstructs, influences or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so [is guilty of the crime of obstruction].
Why was this so important to Mueller? Because most of the obstruction statutes couldn’t possibly apply to President Trump’s behavior, as they require that a defendant obstruct a “pending proceeding” before an agency or tribunal.
It is settled law that an FBI investigation does not constitute such a proceeding. But § 1512(c) applies to acts of obstruction done with the intent of impairing evidence for a future, potential proceeding. That made it potentially usable against the President.
Second – the language of subsection (c)(2), read in isolation, is *very* broad. Removing subsection (1), it reads like this:
“Whoever corruptly… obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so [is guilty of the crime of obstruction].”
If taken to its extreme, it could be read to cover any act – no matter how lawful – that has the effect of impeding a federal investigation. That would include, for example, asking an FBI director to lay off an investigation, or firing an FBI director. The Mueller Report revealed that Mueller interpreted § 1512(c)(2) in just such a broad fashion.
Mueller adopted an expansive, acontextual, and constitutionally questionable interpretation of § 1512(c)(2) and used it to justify an extensive investigation into potential obstruction of justice by President Trump.
Barr’s interpretation of § 1512(c)(2) – which was far more textually and constitutionally sound – would have made it almost impossible for Mueller to justify investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
Mueller…was relying on the more broadly worded § 1512(c)(2), which covers the obstruction of *potential future* proceedings, not just proceedings that are already ongoing….
But if Trump’s legal team couldn’t persuade Mueller to let go of his obstruction theory, the investigation could go on indefinitely. Any act that could be characterized as “impeding” the Russia probe – even the exercise of core Article II powers or Trump’s complaints about Mueller – could conceivably be investigated as potential obstruction of justice. Rather than ending by Thanksgiving 2017, the Mueller investigation could continue through Trump’s first term – and perhaps longer….
Barr’s confirmation would change the Department of Justice’s official view on the interpretation of § 1512(c)(2) – and thus undermine Mueller’s obstruction investigation….
…it’s clear that Barr was the assassin Democrats feared.
Within six weeks of his confirmation, the Mueller probe was over.
When Mueller equivocated on obstruction in his report, Barr affirmatively determined that there was no viable obstruction charge. In a twist, Barr didn’t rely on a narrow reading of § 1512(c)(2); instead, he exploited the malleability of Mueller’s theory and determined that Trump lacked the requisite intent to commit obstruction.
At the same time, he made clear during the press conference that he didn’t agree with Mueller’s legal theories; one has to suspect he was referring to the debate over § 1512(c)(2).
In any event, Mueller and Weissman had lost the chess match. Trump and his team had won.
No Collusion. No Obstruction. No more Mueller Investigation.
Livin' in the Gulag...
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