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Think Tank Finds Trump “Likely Obstructed Justice”
The case for impeaching the 45th president just got a strong show of support in a 108-page report issued by the Brookings Institution. “Presidential obstruction of justice: The case of Donald J. Trump” analyzes his firing of FBI Director James Comey last May and concludes that it shows clear signs of obstruction and could be grounds for impeachment.
As Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into whether Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to influence his election and other related matters, the independent Washington-based think tank noted how the firing is questionable. “The fact that the president has lawful authority to take a particular course of action does not immunize him if he takes that action with the unlawful intent of obstructing a proceeding for an improper purpose,” the report states.
The key to its case is the signs of such intent that it details. “Attempts to stop an investigation represent a common form of obstruction. Demanding the loyalty of an individual involved in an investigation, requesting that individual’s help to end the investigation, and then ultimately firing that person to accomplish that goal are the type of acts that have frequently resulted in obstruction convictions.”
Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt in May, “I was going to fire Comey. When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.'” He also appealed to Comey to drop the investigation of his aide Michael Flynn and Russian connections, which Comey revealed in testimony before Congress.
“There is already evidence that his acts may have been done with an improper intent to prevent the investigation from uncovering damaging information about Trump, his campaign, his family, or his top aides,” the report concludes. It also notes how obstruction was previously used in the articles of impeachment filed against Bill Clinton and drawn up against Richard Nixon before he resigned.
At this point it remains unlikely that the GOP-controlled House of Representatives would take action to impeach Trump. But the Brookings report does indicate that the tide may be turning in that direction.