Trump argues he's fighting back on Russia probe, not obstructing justice, while vaguely threatening '13 Angry Democrats'

  • President Donald Trump gave a rundown of his thinking about the twin probes into possible wrongdoing from his campaign and administration on Monday, and threatened Democratic lawmakers in the process.
  • Trump said he didn’t collude with Russia, so he can’t be guilty of obstructing justice if he was “fighting back” against a case that found no wrongdoing.
  • The law does not work that way, and obstructing an investigation, no matter the result of the investigation, can be prosecuted.

President Donald Trump gave a rundown of his thinking about the twin probes into possible wrongdoing from his campaign and administration on Monday morning, and threatened Democratic lawmakers in the process.

In two tweets, Trump began by arguing that he did not collude with Russia, and therefore can’t be guilty of obstruction of justice either.

However, the crime of obstruction of justice, as described by federal law, applies to impeding investigations and is not dependent on whether or not the investigation actually finds a crime was committed.

Additionally, Trump could be prosecuted for obstruction if he “corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavours to influence, obstruct, or impede” a “due and proper” investigation, according to federal law.

“The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility. House Intelligence Committee found No Collusion, Coordination or anything else with Russia. So now the Probe says OK, what else is there? How about Obstruction for a made up, phony crime.There is no O, it’s called Fighting Back,” Trump tweeted, likely abbreviating “obstruction” as “O.”

In April, the Republican-majority House Intelligence Committee released a report concluding that they hadn’t found evidence of collusion. Democrats on the committee pushed back against those conclusions, and a Democrat-aligned group criticised the investigation as not being exhaustive enough.

But the House probe is only one of the Russia investigations.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has also investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations into Russian meddling and possible obstruction of justice remains in place.

Robert MuellerChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesThe special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether Trump committed obstruction of justice and whether his campaign cooperated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 US election.

And even though the House investigation didn’t find any wrongdoing, Mueller’s investigation is very different. Michael Caputo, who advised the Trump campaign on communications in 2016 and was interviewed by Mueller’s team, explained how on CNN Thursday.

“It’s clear they are still really focused on Russia collusion,”Caputo said, adding, “They know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.”

“The Senate and the House are net fishing,” Caputo said. “The special counsel is spearfishing. They know what they are aiming at and are deadly accurate.”

Since a raid on his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen’s office in April, Trump has appeared increasingly flustered with the investigations he wishes would end.

While the raids may have coalesced after a tip from Mueller’s office, the criminal probe into Cohen is separate from the special counsel investigation. Federal prosecutors from the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York are investigating Cohen for possible campaign finance violations, bank fraud, and wire fraud.

On Monday, Trump went on to vaguely threaten “13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt”, tweeting: “and just wait ’till the Courts get to see your un revealed Conflicts of Interest!”

Trump and many of his top staffers have been linked to “unprecedented” levels of conflicts of interest.

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