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McQuade writes: "The conduct described in the report constitutes multiple crimes of obstruction of justice, supported by evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade. (photo: U of M Law)
Former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade. (photo: U of M Law)


My Opening Statement to Congress, Trump Committed Multiple Crimes

By Barbara McQuade, The Daily Beast

11 June 19


‘If anyone other than a sitting president had committed this conduct, I am confident that he would be charged with crimes.’

hairman Nadler, Ranking Member Collins, and distinguished members of the Committee: Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today about lessons from the Mueller Report regarding obstruction of justice.

***

Overview of Testimony

The most significant finding in the Special Counsel’s Report is that Russia interfered with our election in “sweeping and systematic fashion.”

Through that lens, I will share 2 observations about the report—

What happened and why it matters.

First, the conduct described in the report constitutes multiple crimes of obstruction of justice, supported by evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

If anyone other than a sitting president had committed this conduct, I am confident that he would be charged with crimes.

One thousand former federal prosecutors signed a letter agreeing that the president committed crimes.

Second, why it matters.

The obstruction described in the report created a risk to our national security because it was designed to prevent investigators from learning all of the facts about an attack on our country by a hostile foreign adversary.

Let me explain each of those observations.

***

Obstruction of Justice Occurred

First, what happened.

The special counsel’s report describes ten episodes of potential obstruction of justice.

With regard to four of these episodes, the special counsel found “substantial evidence” for all elements of obstruction of justice.

First, the evidence shows a request to White House Counsel Don McGahn to remove Mr. Mueller as special counsel.

Second, a request to falsely deny public reports about that order and to create a false document to support the lie.

Third, efforts to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal decision, and to publicly announce that the Russia investigation would focus on future elections only.

Fourth, efforts to influence the testimony of Paul Manafort, another former campaign chairman.

Let me focus on one of those incidents.

The report describes President Donald Trump’s persistent efforts to curtail the special counsel’s investigation by directing Attorney General Sessions to reverse his recusal decision and to limit the investigation to future elections.

President Trump asked various intermediaries, including Corey Lewandowski, a private citizen, to convey his message to Mr. Sessions, but they ultimately didn’t do it.

But for the acts of his associates, Mr. Trump would have limited the investigation to future elections, That would have prevented Mr. Mueller from learning the facts about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Although Mr. Mueller’s investigation did not establish the crime of conspiracy against the Trump campaign under federal statutes, proof of an underlying crime is not required to prove obstruction, because it is the interference with the search for the truth that the law prohibits.

And let’s not forget that the investigation did establish sufficient evidence to charge 37 defendants with crimes, including Russian intelligence officials.

That’s despite the fact that some people, including the president, refused to talk to Mr. Mueller, lied to him, used encrypted messaging apps.

We don’t know what he would have been able to find if not for that kind of obstruction.

The report identified possible motives animating the president’s conduct, all of which would legally support obstruction charges.

One motive was concerns that the investigation would raise doubts about the legitimacy of Trump's election.

Another motive was concern that the contacts with Russia, documented by Mr. Mueller, would be seen as criminal activity by the president, his campaign or his family. (P. 157)

In fact, President Trump was described as an unindicted co-conspirator in the indictment against Michael Cohen for campaign finance violations relating to payments to silence a woman from making allegations about Donald Trump.

Regardless of motive, the conduct described in the report was an attempt to interfere with Mr. Mueller’s investigation, and it amounts to obstruction of justice under the criminal obstruction statute.

Second, why it matters.

Mr. Trump’s attempt to limit the scope of the investigation to future elections, had it been successful, would have harmed our national security by shielding Russia’s conduct in attacking the 2016 election from the investigation.

But for the conduct of other individuals, Mr. Trump would have thwarted Mr. Mueller’s efforts to gain valuable intelligence.

By seeking to end or curtail the investigation, President Trump attempted to limit our country’s understanding of how Russia attacked our election, which would also diminish our ability to detect and defend against future threats.

That is a threat to our national security.

Mr. Mueller concluded his public remarks by “reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.

That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

I hope to answer your questions to give that allegation the attention that it deserves.

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+21 # DongiC 2019-06-11 15:51
Why isn't our Congress impeaching this loathsome president and removing him from office and preparing to repulse a Russian threat against our electoral process in 20/20. Why are we not taking steps against this nation for what is almost an act of war? Why are we not protecting the most sacred action under our democracy; that is, the voting process, from Russian infringement? Have we become that pusillanimous in the defense of our beloved way of life?
 
 
+16 # economagic 2019-06-11 20:27
One might also wonder why we are "not protecting the most sacred action under our democracy; that is, the voting process," from infringement by US citizens under the aegis of one (or more) of the principal political parties.
 
 
+4 # Robbee 2019-06-12 10:05
i was ready for congress to impeach dickhead on his first day on office

from hindsight i'm glad congress didn't do it

i don't worry about 20 repuke senators agreeing to remove dickhead from office - that doesn't mean we shouldn't insist that they vote!

that the dem house subpoenas records and takes testimony on obstruction of justice, i salute! Quoting economagic:
One might also wonder why we are "not protecting the most sacred action under our democracy; that is, the voting process," from infringement by US citizens under the aegis of one (or more) of the principal political parties.

- today the dem house is moving to subpoena records regarding citizenship questions on the census
 
 
+4 # WorkingClass 2019-06-12 09:48
DongiC - I agree with all your questions and implications on what we, as a nation "should" being doing. What Russia did to help the buffoon of a President we have should be punished. Having said that the US has done exactly what the Russians did around the world for decades when it comes to interfering in other countries elections and self-government . We may not have used the high-tech methods that the Russian did but our hands aren't clean.
 
 
+5 # economagic 2019-06-12 13:24
In quite a few cases we used the low-tech method of armed force, later augmented by air power.
 
 
+1 # johnescher 2019-06-13 06:48
Quoting DongiC:
Why isn't our Congress impeaching this loathsome president and removing him from office and preparing to repulse a Russian threat against our electoral process in 20/20. Why are we not taking steps against this nation for what is almost an act of war? Why are we not protecting the most sacred action under our democracy; that is, the voting process, from Russian infringement? Have we become that pusillanimous in the defense of our beloved way of life?


Some people around here need a simplicity check. The word "pusillanimous" does very well to describe them, but "yaller" would do as well.
 
 
+22 # janie1893 2019-06-11 15:57
It seems to me that if Americans allow Donald Trump to go unpunished for his many crimes while in office, the United States citizenry
will be complicit in his criminality. The rest of the world will surely seek redress for the
results of such arrogance and lack of ethical
behaviour.
 
 
+18 # WorkingClass 2019-06-11 15:59
Mueller, in his public statement clearly stated that he was bound by DOJ policy that prevented him from charging or even expressing his option about charging a President. He followed that up that if he had confidence that the President didn't commit a crime he would have said so. Enough said. However, that hasn't stopped Trump and talking heads on FOX from saying Mueller cleared Trump. Goebbels would be so proud of FOX.
 
 
+10 # lfeuille 2019-06-11 21:09
Well that was predictable. The Republicans lie about everything. Mueller could have been more forthcoming and left FOX and co. no room for to distort the results by having the grand jury name Trump an unindicted co-conspirator. Mueller has been much to circumspect about what he really meant. The Republicans in Congress just want to shut the investigation down and the Democratic leadership is trying desparatly to avoid their constitutional duty. IIn that kind of atmosphere it is necessary to be very direct or you words will be distorted.
 
 
-9 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-12 05:41
I listened to this congressional hearing on Cspan and I was not impressed with the testimony of McQuade or Dean. While I know he is a republican blow hard, Jim Jordan made a fool out of Dean and showed what a headlines hog he is.

McQuade's presentation was really scary. She accepts in full Mueller's really radical theory of obstruction of justice. That theory totally obliterates the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments of the constitution. It is overly simple to say that Mueller and McQuade believe that someone being investigated by a federal prosecutor is guilty until they prove him/her innocent, but that is the net result of their theory.

In the American legal system, it is important that the rights of citizens are not violated by prosecutors.

In the above statement, McQuade sets out as a premise that


"The most significant finding in the Special Counsel’s Report is that Russia interfered with our election in “sweeping and systematic fashion.”

Through that lens, I will share 2 observations about the report—"


This is a false premise and everything that follows from it is necessarily false. Mueller did not prove anything about Russian intervention. In fact, his report refutes itself with the highly selective evidence it presents. And it lies by omission of key evidence.
 
 
+1 # economagic 2019-06-12 13:27
A conclusion from a false premise is indeterminate. In everyday language, a false premise leads to no conclusion at all, neither truth nor falsehood, exactly what Mueller asserted.
 
 
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-12 18:22
econo --OK, thanks. What you say is true. However I am talking about a particular logical fallacy presented here by McQuade. She tries to move from premise to conclusion. She wants us to think both are true, but in reality both are false.
 
 
+1 # Lgfoot 2019-06-15 21:32
13 Russian GRU agents indicted says otherwise, Odious.
 
 
-10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-12 05:45
continued --


Mueller's Russia theory has not been proven in court. McQuade asserts that Russia is guilty before any proof has been offered.

So her conclusion here --

"By seeking to end or curtail the investigation, President Trump attempted to limit our country’s understanding of how Russia attacked our election, which would also diminish our ability to detect and defend against future threats."


is circular and false. Trump did not seek to end or curtail the investigation. He complained on Twitter about the unfairness of it. Everyone has a right to complain about the acts of a prosecutor.

We might as well name the theory of obstruction of justice advanced by McQuade and Mueller at the "theory of the unitary prosecutor"; that is, prosecutors hold all powers unto themselves -- police, judge, jury, and executioner.

It is just sad that so few people see this as how fascism really works. All you need is a easy target like Trump or some other "deplorable" and the masses will cheer the police as they brutalize the hated "other."

The Mueller Probe was an exercise in manufacturing a cohort of people who were willing to throw out legal due process just in order to see the hated other punished.
 
 
0 # Lgfoot 2019-06-15 21:33
Wow. Delusional much?
 
 
+8 # WorkingClass 2019-06-12 08:54
It is rarely mentioned that the key players in the investigation of Trump are life-long Republicans. Mueller for example received overwhelming GOP support when nominated for the head of the FBI. He did not become the devil until Trump freaked about being investigated. Then GOPer's in Congress suddenly did not dare do anything but trash Mueller, least they be the victim of Trump's tweets and the reaction of Trump's base.
 
 
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-12 18:25
Working -- they are not just life long republicans, they are Bush Republicans. And William Barr is a Bush republican. These republicans want to purge the Trump poison from the republican party. Trump and his rabble of followers have always been hated by the Bush republicans. They want their party back.

Bush republicans have always been allied with Clinton democrats. W. Bush calls Bill Clinton "my brother by another mother." These two families have owned the two American political parties since the 80s. That's why our politics are so fucked up.
 
 
+1 # Lgfoot 2019-06-15 21:36
Our politics? If you mean America's politics, you are not fairly included troll boy.
BTW, for someone who hates Drumpf, Barr sure is acting one hell of a part as a Drumpf supporter.
 
 
+3 # Robbee 2019-06-12 10:27
from hindsight i am glad that dem congress did not impeach dickhead before mueller reported - mueller built an amazing factual record!

there is no urgency to hurry to submit articles of impeachment to 20 repuke senators it takes to vote to convict dickhead of impeachment charges! none!

todday, 12 June 19, the dem house must put on a show trial! as methodical as the evidence mueller revealed!

subpoena mcgahn! demand that courts enforce the subpoena!

go dem house! robbee salutes you!

if we don't get to drag dickhead! kicking and screaming! every step of the way! to justice! where would be our satisfaction? no! no! no! no!
 
 
+4 # johnescher 2019-06-13 17:58
If I follow you, RR, always a strain, you are implying today once again that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election. You said that explicitly the other day, so I think I am on safe ground in making that assertion.

But your assertions are on a whole different level from mine. To back up this main one, will you kindly now conduct a two-year investigation and put its redacted conclusions in a red cover, so that I can compare it with the other redacted tome in red cover.

Make sure not just to refute Mueller with hard evidence but all the intelligence agencies that asserted the meddling. They and Mueller are all in collusion, in your mind, nicht wahr? Make sure to document the collusion-- that's important-- so I and others of my stripe can reach an informed decision.

Why just have two investigations, Mueller and Barr, when we can have a third, the Raskolnikov investigation, as something, finally, to support Rodion's main allegation?
 
 
+3 # DongiC 2019-06-14 02:50
My guess is that on the subject of Trump and his record, RR is paid by the red thumb. It is part of Trump's strategy to always be in the center of the news. Sir Donald feeds on attention, good or bad. He is the ultimate narcissistic personality. Too bad he is not in an institution instead of the White House. Come to think of it, "institution" and "White House" have become synonymous terms.
 

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