Donald Trump has committed so many serious crimes, it’s difficult to keep track of all of them without a flowchart. He committed to the treasonous crime of conspiracy against the United States when he worked with Russia to rig the election in his favor. He’s guilty of money laundering. He’s guilty of numerous other past and present felonies. Yet special counsel Robert Mueller is prioritizing obstruction of justice charges against Trump, despite the arguably less serious nature of that particular crime. There’s a clever reason for this which hasn’t been discussed up to this point.
Yes, it’s true that it’s quicker and easier to prove obstruction of justice than it is to prove a more complex crime like conspiracy against United States. Obstruction charges are the quickest and easiest way to force Trump out of office. But that may not even be the only reason Mueller is going in that direction.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder voiced his legal opinion today that Mueller may be able to indict Trump for obstruction of justice and put him on trial for it, thus bypassing an uncooperative Republican controlled Congress. It’s never been legally established whether or not a sitting president can be indicted and tried in a court of law. Things never got that far with Richard Nixon; The DOJ issued a recommendation on it, but it was never tested in court.
The Supreme Court would have to decide whether or not Robert Mueller is allowed to put Donald Trump directly on trial. Even if Mueller is unable to argue that he should be allowed to try Trump for crimes like money laundering, he may have a much better chance of arguing that he should be allowed to try Trump for obstruction of justice, because Trump committed obstruction specifically to try to prevent himself from being tried for the other crimes. Keep in mind that any criminal prosecution of Trump could take years. The goal of putting Trump directly on trial would be to swiftly make him so politically nonviable that the laws of politics would force him out of office. Then Mueller and the Feds can try him for anything they want.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report