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Keep up with this story and more But Trump may yet cross another line that risks embroiling him in criminal conduct, and which he seems willing to perform very publicly on Twitter: intimidating witnesses.
Over the years, Trump has used his Twitter account to target many different people.
Trump has probably not fallen foul of § 1512 yet, however.
To charge Trump with the offense, a prosecutor would want “clear evidence” that the tweets “crossed the line from the ordinary kinds of attacks that investigation targets or defendants might make (usually through their lawyers) on an investigation or witnesses over to statements designed to interfere with a witness’s testimony,” Whiting says.
That phrase has generated some debate, with an argument that an FBI investigation doesn’t count.
And that could be fatal to the obstruction case against Trump.
However, it doesn’t explicitly suggest Comey should provide false testimony, but rather the opposite.“It’s possible to argue that Comey would be so afraid of getting the details wrong that Trump’s comment would chill his testimony,” Mariotti says.On top of the interest in his own interactions with Russians, Sessions is likely an important witness in the firing of Comey and in events surrounding Comey’s Valentine’s Day meeting with Trump, at which Comey says Trump pressured him to drop the Flynn investigation.Trump ratcheted up the pressure on Sessions in recent weeks, describing him on Twitter as “beleaguered” and “ VERY weak,” and may well return to this theme if and when Sessions’s involvement is back in the news.Discussion of Donald Trump’s possible criminal wrongdoing since assuming the presidency has focused most intensely on classical obstruction of justice.
Those matters involve whether the president impeding investigations into Michael Flynn and Russian election interference, and are reportedly under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Judiciary Committee.Comey himself will be a key witness to any obstruction case.