Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano defines obstruction of justice as, “interference in an official investigation, successful or not, for a corrupt purpose.” It’s Judge Napolitano’s surprising legal opinion that Donald Trump interfered with, or attempted to interfere with, investigations into his person or his organization at least ten times for a corrupt purpose. It is also the informed opinion of the judge that Robert Mueller dropped the ball when he said presidents cannot be prosecuted, because, “If presidents can’t be prosecuted then they are above the law, and it’s a fundamental principle of jurisprudence that no one is above the law.”
There cannot be any doubt in the mind of any reasonable person that Donald Trump committed at least ten clear instances of obstruction of justice. Abuse of power, contempt of Congress, violation of the Constitutional emolument clause and (possible) tax evasion could also reasonably be considered for articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Bill Clinton was impeached on seven counts of obstruction of justice. Richard Nixon was nearly impeached for obstruction of justice, among other things, but resigned in advance of a vote of the full House on articles of impeachment already passed by the House Judiciary Committee.
It is Nancy Pelosi’s clear duty, therefore, to authorize articles of impeachment against Donald Trump for eventual full vote before the House. What is stopping her? One school of thought is that she doesn’t want to put the country through an impeachment hearing in the Congress only to fail to get the supermajority necessary for a conviction in the Senate. In other words, she believes that, no matter how compelling the evidence against Trump, Republicans in the Senate will not convict him, even if they know he’s guilty.
So what about the Attorney General of the United States, William Barr? Does Barr know that Trump is guilty of obstruction? Does he, like Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano, understand that Trump “interfered in an official investigation for a corrupt purpose?” You bet he does.
The problem America faces right now, isn’t that there does not exist sufficient evidence against Trump to get a conviction, but that lawmakers in the Senate and “America’s top cop” will not permit Trump to be convicted, even though they are perfectly aware that he’s guilty. Now, I don’t know about you, but from where I’m sitting, that sounds like career suicide, if America remains the functioning democracy that it’s always been. But what if it doesn’t, or, even more likely, what if the people so blithely betting their careers believe, with some justification, that it soon won’t be?
We know that Russia is gearing up to make its biggest ever assault on Democracy in the election of 2020. We have Michael Cohen’s assurance that if Trump loses in 2020 it may still not be so easy to get rid of him. We know that certain members of the Republican Party and the Trump pirate ship in the White House are contemptuous of the rule of law, and are more than ever ready to weaponize the law – or even defy the law – for furtherance of any corrupt purpose.
Come 2020, the institutions we depend on for our salvation simply may not function as they have in the past. The blanket edict from the White House for all its lackeys to ignore Congressional subpoenas may be a mere dress rehearsal for the lawlessness anticipated in 2020. We have seen what criminal behavior Trump has gotten away with so far, what makes us so sure he and his acolytes aren’t just getting warmed up?
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.