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Did Trump Commit High Crimes and Misdemeanors?

By       Message Marjorie Cohn       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   10 comments

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Reprinted from www.jurist.org

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has responded to the crescendo of outrage by appointing former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump'' and "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation'' as well as any other matters within the scope of the Department of Justice (DOJ) regulation on special counsel appointments.

"In my capacity as acting attorney general I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,'' Rosenstein stated.

"My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command,'' Rosenstein added.

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Independent counsel Kenneth Starr thought he had "substantial and credible" evidence against President Bill Clinton in 1998. Starr turned over the results of his investigation to the House of Representatives, who then initiated impeachment proceedings.

Evidence of a Cover-up by Trump

As evidence of President Donald Trump's malfeasance emerges, the old adage that the cover-up is worse than the crime may once again prove true.

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There is circumstantial evidence of improper contact between members of the Trump administration and Russian operatives during the presidential campaign. At this point, however, we have seen no concrete proof of criminal conduct.

But evidence of a cover-up continues to mount. Trump has admitted the Russia investigation motivated him to fire FBI director James Comey. Trump asked Comey to end the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Trump made veiled threats to Comey about possible tapes of their conversations. Trump demanded that Comey pledge loyalty to him, but Comey refused. And Trump defensively fixated on Comey telling him three times that Trump was not an object of the investigation.

These acts constitute probable cause that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

Both of these crimes are felonies. They are "high crimes and misdemeanors," the constitutional standard for impeachment.

In addition, according to the Washington Post, Trump revealed "highly classified information" to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russian ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak, and Russian reporters.

Although this may not amount to criminal behavior, it could still constitute a high crime and misdemeanor for impeachment purposes.

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What are High Crimes and Misdemeanors?

Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist No. 65 that offenses are impeachable if they

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Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and a member of the National Advisory Board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. See  (more...)
 

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