Despite the Hype, Comey’s Testimony Reveals No Obstruction of Justice

On the 9th of June former director of the FBI, James Comey, testified before the Senate intelligence committee. Depending on what he said, Comey’s testimony could have led to Trump being charged with obstruction of justice, which would have opened a path to an impeachment trial. Many were anxious about the possibility that Trump could be stripped of his position.

In documentation submitted to the committee prior to the session, Comey stated that Trump told him to refrain from further investigations into Flynn because “he is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey repeated this at the hearing.

The press has picked up on this to publish misleading headlines making it seem as if Trump really did obstruct justice.

However, when asked whether Trump’s statement amounted to obstruction of justice, Comey evaded the question by saying he will leave it to the special prosecutor.

The documentation that Comey submitted, and his oral testimony, has at least brought to light the fact that Trump was never under investigation. According to the administration, Trump is delighted that this has become public. It is now clear that he could not have dismissed Comey because he was under investigation. Trump fired Comey for his incompetence as an FBI director.


Saying “I Hope” Is Different to Making an Order

In addition, Comey’s personal interpretation of Trump’s use of the word “hope” was called into question. Below is the exchange between Senator James Risch of Idaho and Comey on Trump’s use of this word:

Risch: “He [Flynn] is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Now, these are his exact words, is that correct?
Comey: Correct.
Risch: He did not direct you to let it go?
Comey: Not in his words, no.
Risch: He did not order you to let it go?
Comey: Again, those words are not an order.
Risch: He said: “I hope.” . . . Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?
Comey: I don’t know well enough to answer. The reason I keep saying his words is, I took it as a direction.

Senator Risch told Fox News, “if he [Comey] thought the President meant something different than what he actually said, he should have said, ‘Mr. President exactly what do you mean?'”

“I’ve prosecuted lots and lots of cases. You can’t prosecute someone for ‘hoping’ something,” he added.
If Comey thought the President’s words were something to be concerned about, why did he not address this fact with the Senate or the Attorney General? He chose instead to keep this it to himself and leak it via the media months later. If anything, it is Comey himself who should be charged with misprision.


Did Trump’s Use of the Word “Hope” Imply Something Illegal?

To establish that an obstruction of justice took place, there needs to be proof of an illegal intention. Director of the Fordham Law School, Bruce Green, says that it is hard to prove that Trump had any intention to obstruct the investigations into Flynn. Trump was merely vouching for Flynn’s character and voicing concerns about how the probe was interfering with his ability to function effectively as president, Green suggested.

In any case, Trump’s words are too vague to support a claim that he had an “illegal” and/or “corrupt” intention.


The President Giving Orders Is Not A Crime

Even if the President did order Comey to stop investigating Flynn, it does not necessarily amount to an obstruction of justice. In an interview on Fox News, constitutional expert and Harvard Professor of Law, Alan Dershowitz, said:

“The president can, in theory, decide who to investigate, who to stop investigating, who to prosecute and who not to prosecute. The president is the head of the unified executive branch of government, and the Justice Department and the FBI work under him and he may order them to do what he wishes.”

On Fox news, Dershowitz referred to President Bush’s pardon of Casper Weinberger contrary to the decision of the special prosecutor. Just as this was never an obstruction of justice, Trump’s pardon of Flynn could not be a crime.

In other words, Trump “has the right to say, ‘You will not investigate Flynn’ . . . He could have simply said to Comey, ‘Stop the investigation, I’ve just pardoned Flynn.'” This is constitutionally legal.

The press have a tendency to use Comey’s statements to make Trump look guilty. They minimise the significance of the news that Trump was never under investigation, and try to irrationally link Comey’s testimony to an alleged obstruction of justice by Trump.

Whether there was an ‘order’ or not, the President has the right to issue a pardon. It is about time the people raise their voices against injustice in the media.

Despite the Hype, Comey’s Testimony Reveals No Obstruction of Justice
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