In a piece from the New York Times, reporters Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman revealed that Special Counsel lead prosecutor Robert Mueller has turned his attention to Donald Trump’s favorite social media platform, Twitter, in order to parse statements made by the President that could constitute obstruction of justice.
Mueller is particularly focusing on tweets Trump sent mentioning Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey, according to three inside sources available to the Times. Trump famously said of both men that their actions on the Russia investigation should affect their jobs — that became actionable in the case of Comey, who was fired by the President over “this Russia thing.” Sessions has also been the target of Trump’s ire, prompting the mercurial President to say on multiple occasions that he would never have appointed the former Alabama Senator to the position he’s in had he made it clear he would be recusing himself from any and all things pertaining to Russia.
Many have already argued that Trump’s statements to Lester Holt last year on live television about the firing of Comey plainly constitute obstruction. But combined with private statements made to both men, the case could be even clearer. From the Times:
Several of the remarks came as Mr. Trump was also privately pressuring the men — both key witnesses in the inquiry — about the investigation, and Mr. Mueller is examining whether the actions add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry.”
Despite several warnings from his top advisers that he may be creating legal problems for himself by being so candid on Twitter, the President’s need for adulation from his base ultimately outweighed the value he placed on discretion. Trump himself has inadvertently confirmed many of the allegations of witness tampering and pressuring officials with his own tweets. During the period in which he was publicly feuding with his AG Sessions, Trump could barely contain himself on social media:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Ultimately it will be up to the Special Counsel as to whether it all adds up to obstruction. But at this point, it seems very likely that Mueller will make official what America has watched happening in real time.
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