Thursday, June 8, 2017

If It Quacks Like Obstruction....

Donald Trump
Credit: whitehouse.gov
Let's talk about obstruction of justice. There are apparently a lot of people who do not believe that President Donald Trump has been involved in obstruction of justice regarding the FBI investigations of his campaign and associates. They come up with various lines of reasoning to explain why Trump's requests to former FBI Director James Comey to back off of his investigations are not criminal, or are not technically obstruction, or whatever.

So let's examine this a little bit. Play along with me, you will enjoy it.

First, let's look at perhaps the key incident so far: Comey's statement that after a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump asked him to "let this go," referring to the FBI's investigation of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. Here is a synopsis of how Comey recounts this story:

Trump had a meeting in his office with a large group of his advisors. After the meeting ended, Trump stated that he wanted to speak to Comey alone. Everyone left except the Attorney General and Trump's son-in-law (the trusted family advisor). Both of them lingered behind, until Trump asked them to leave so he could speak to Comey alone.

Then, after various discussions, Trump got down to the nitty-gritty and said to Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

Did you just hear "obstruction of justice"?

No? Okay, let's try a fun little exercise. Let's change a name and a title, but otherwise leave the story the same, and see what happens.

We want a new name for Trump. We don't want him to be Donald Trump anymore, we want him to be some other name.... some name at random... let's see.... let's call him.... "Vito Corleone."

Yes, that's a fine name. We'll call him Vito Corleone. And the Attorney General will become the consigliere.

Now let's run through the story again. We'll do it pretty much word-for-word from above. But before we get to the key quote, we'll pause for a brief instruction.

Corleone had a meeting in his office with a large group of his advisors. After the meeting ended, Corleone stated that he wanted to speak to Comey alone. Everyone left except the consigliere and Corleone's son-in-law (the trusted family advisor). Both of them lingered behind, until Corleone asked them to leave so he could speak to Comey alone.

Now the pause for the brief instruction. For this next part, I want you to hear the quote in your head in your best Marlon Brando/Godfather voice. Go all out for it. You know you can. Okay, here we go...

Then, after various discussions, Corleone got down to the nitty-gritty and said to Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

So.... Did you hear "obstruction of justice" this time?

Try it again, in your best Brando:

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

I'll bet you heard it that time. So there are only two choices.

One, obstruction of justice can only happen when the person involved has an Italian name and speaks with an Italian accent.

Or, two, Donald Trump has been involved in obstruction of justice.

Go back through the second scenario one more time and really visualize it this time. Get into it. Use your imagination. Watch Corleone behind his desk. See the consigliere and the son-in-law. Hear Corleone speak. You'll get the idea.....