Back when the Mueller report came out, we had a curious, if substantive, debate over what could be considered obstruction of justice.
Those on the Democrat side, believing former special counsel Robert Mueller had left them a trail of breadcrumbs to impeaching President Donald Trump, said that you could obstruct justice even in the exercise of your legitimate governmental powers if you were of a guilty mind.
Those on the side of the president and Attorney General William Barr stated that, no, that wasn’t really the case unless you were blocking an investigation — and, by the way, the majority of that investigation was aimed toward collusion with Russia, which the Mueller report said was unproven at best.
This is a TL;DR version, and partisans of both sides are no doubt going to send me author messages about how I got their side very wrong and how, if I even get paid for a job that involves me writing an email at some point in the future, it will be a grave injustice.
Well, whatever. The point is that you don’t even have to TL;DR the latest theory — admittedly fringe — put forth to say that Trump has committed obstruction of justice.
It comes from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington. She says that if the president uses the court system to exercise his administration’s legal rights in this latest impeachment inquiry, he’s obstructing justice.
That’s really it. I’m sure you could probably come up with a more complicated explanation for it, but — well, let’s let the congresswoman explain.
“We’re not going to fall into their tactics of delay and trying to use the court system,” Jayapal told CNN when discussing the timeline of the impeachment proceedings. “That is, in and of itself, obstruction of justice, and that is what the president does not seem to understand.”
Well, color me stupefied, too.
Asking the courts to clarify whether there’s a right to subpoena a certain individual and compel him or her to give testimony isn’t something new, and, generally speaking, it’s been considered legal in almost every sense of the word.
But wait, there’s more:
If the administration wants to call more witnesses, that’s obstruction of justice, too.
“We are not going to allow the president to use obstruction of justice and obstruction of Congress to stop us by saying, ‘Well, we need to call more witnesses,'” Jayapal said. “We have had so many witnesses.”
Exculpatory witnesses are now obstruction of justice. And while Jayapal may be one of the few pushing this unique theory of criminal culpability, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, seems equally happy with the idea that the Trump administration doesn’t have the right to use the court system to pursue its case.
“They keep taking it to court, and no, we’re not going to wait till the courts decide,” Pelosi said during a Thursday news conference.
”We cannot be at the mercy of the courts,” she said. “The courts are very important in all of this. Those cases will continue.”
In short, this is a further vulgarization of a fast-tracked impeachment inquiry designed to deliver articles of impeachment — as if there’s any doubt what’ll be produced here — at the start of the campaign year.
It’s a bit of a reductio ad absurdum, but you almost expect the Democrats to now say anything short of Trump frog-marching himself down to FBI headquarters in a self-induced perp walk complete with an orange jumpsuit and manacles will be considered illegal.
If the Trump administration calling witnesses or challenging subpoenas now classifies as obstruction of justice, the question practically asks itself: What kind of justice can we expect (or care) to attain?
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.