The early indications are that the long-awaited Justice Department Inspector General’s report on the FBI and the DOJ’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation puts to rest any notion that President Donald Trump obstructed justice in firing FBI Director James Comey.
Comey, according to the report, had done quite enough on his own to merit firing, and to attribute his dismissal to a desire by the president to stop the Russia investigation is very far-fetched.
The report says Comey “deviated from procedure in his handling” of the Hillary email case.
While saying that it has no evidence that his actions had a political motivation, it is clear that Comey strayed “dramatically from FBI and department norms” in his handling of the investigation.
This language suggests that President Trump had good reason for acting on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Comey.
Remember that special prosecutor Robert Mueller was appointed right after Trump fired Comey, and his investigation is squarely rooted in the idea that the president’s actions were a cover-up.
Indeed, it was Comey’s idea to turn his firing (which he may have precipitated deliberately) into grounds for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
He did this by leaking his conversations with the president to a source that would, in turn, bring it to the media.
In the absence of any evidence or proof of Trump colluding with Russia to fix the election, the best Mueller can do is to bring obstruction charges against the president.
These accusations would have two pillars:
• The firing of Comey.
• Trump’s request that Comey “go easy” on fired National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.
So, now, forget about the firing of Comey as a grounds for indictment or impeachment. Comey’s conduct made it necessary to dismiss him.
And the Flynn pillar is also shaky. Evidence suggests that Trump — after being briefed by the White House counsel to that effect — did not think there was any criminal investigation of Flynn going on. Hence, he could not have obstructed an investigation he didn’t think was happening.
Indeed, the evidence now suggests that Flynn had gotten a clean bill of health on his FBI interview and that the charges that he had lied in it were dreamed up later.
So, if Mueller can’t prove a Trump-Kremlin conspiracy and can’t prove obstruction of justice by the president, isn’t it time he went home?
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