Obstruction of What?

As Paul has noted, Robert Mueller’s report declines to address whether various actions on the part of President Trump (most of which have been publicly reported, according to Attorney General Barr’s letter) constituted obstruction of justice. No doubt Democrats will try to seize on this omission, which apparently was the best Mueller could do on behalf of his Democratic Party patrons. That effort is, I think, destined for failure.

First, if there was no collusion, there was nothing to obstruct and little reason to obstruct it. The Democrats are not going to be able to generate any excitement about a purported effort to obstruct an investigation into something that didn’t happen.

Second, if Trump had actually wanted to obstruct Mueller’s investigation, he could have fired Mueller and ended the investigation. He didn’t do that, even though, being well aware of his own innocence, he must have been sorely tempted.

Third, no action by President Trump can plausibly be couched as obstruction. Certainly not the firing of James Comey, the centerpiece of the obstruction theory. The FBI Director is nominated by the President and reports to the Attorney General and, ultimately, the President. If the President thinks he is doing a poor job–as Democrats pretty much unanimously alleged with regard to Comey–he has a duty to fire him. Trump fired Comey after receiving written recommendations from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he do so. No doubt Trump was angry about the Russia hoax at the time, but that can hardly transform his proper termination of an underperforming FBI Director into obstruction. The President has the right and the duty to run the executive branch. See the impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson.

The idea that President Trump’s tweets denouncing Mueller’s investigation constituted obstruction is even more fanciful. Calling Mueller’s investigation a witch hunt didn’t obstruct it, and Mueller, I take it, doesn’t claim that it did. Moreover, Trump was right–the investigation was premised on a partisan hoax. Mueller has now admitted that he searched high and low, and couldn’t find any witches.

In short, there is no way the Democrats can put lipstick on this pig.

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