Earlier today I raised the question of whether Donald Trump violated federal witness tampering statute 18 U.S. Code § 1512 when he tweeted a menacing message to Sally Yates just before she began her testimony in Senate hearings (link). In do doing, I pointed out that I’m not an attorney. Since that time, someone with an extensive legal background has begun asking the exact same question.
Congressman Ted Lieu has a Judicial Doctorate, and he was an Air Force JAG prosecutor before he entered politics, meaning that he has an expert understanding of the law. After Donald Trump tweeted an unsubstantiated claim that Yates had broken the law, Lieu responded in the following manner:
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) May 8, 2017
For reference, here’s the relevant passage from 18 U.S. Code § 1512:
“Whoever knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to— (1) influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding; (2) cause or induce any person to— (A) withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official proceeding; (B) alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; (C) evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness, or to produce a record, document, or other object, in an official proceeding; or (D) be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process; or (3) hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.” (link)
And so as the FBI continues to investigate Donald Trump’s Russia scandal for what seems like an inevitable DOJ prosecution, the FBI may now be able to add witness intimidation to any recommended charges. But nonetheless, Sally Yates persisted and testified today anyway. Help fund Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report