For much of the last year, one of the biggest questions in politics has been whether Donald Trump obstructed justice when he tried to pressure FBI Director James Comey into backing off former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Those questions became louder after Trump tweeted that he pushed out Flynn because he lied to the FBI.
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
As we now know, that tweet was actually written by Trump lawyer John Dowd.
Well, one of the Senators who is working to get to the bottom of Russia’s attempt to hack the election indicated that she and other Senators believe Trump really did obstruct the investigation. Dianne Feinstein of California is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is also a member of the House Intelligence Committee–the only Senator on both panels. She dropped by NBC’s “Meet the Press” to discuss the Russia investigation. Watch here.
Host Chuck Todd asked what she, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, made of that tweet. Feinstein’s response should send a chill down Trump’s spine.
“As you know, I’m ranking on Judiciary, and the Judiciary Committee has an investigation going as well. And it involves obstruction of justice. And, I think what we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice.”
Feinstein explained that the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, as well as the guilty pleas of Flynn and Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, spell out a case for obstruction of justice. She also believed that Trump’s “hyper-frenetic attitude,” including his mad tweeting, is also a strong indication of obstruction.
But the strongest indicator of all?
“And I see it, most importantly, in what happened with the firing of Director Comey. And it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice.”
This comes as no surprise. Remember, Papadoupolos and Flynn both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russia. Additionally, Comey is on record as saying that Trump leaned on him hard to back off Flynn.
Feinstein went on to say that she doesn’t think Flynn was acting as a “rogue agent” when he made his overtures to Russia. She’s certain that Flynn “had to have been directed” somehow.
That dovetails very closely with the timeline set forth in Flynn’s guilty plea. Flynn admitted that he urged the Kremlin not to react too harshly to sanctions Obama imposed on Russia after speaking with “a senior member” of the Trump transition team. According to sources close to the probe, that “senior member” was K. T. McFarland, who briefly served as a deputy to Flynn.
He also admitted that he approached Russia and other countries about opposing a UN resolution on Israel on orders from “a very senior member” of the transition team. According to multiple reports, that “very senior member” was Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
If those sources are to be believed, Flynn made his approaches to Russia on orders from two people very close to Trump. After all, based on what we now know, at the very least this is firmly in “what did the president know, and when did he know it?” territory.
All things considered, it’s no wonder that both the Senate and special counsel Robert Mueller appear to be sniffing around for evidence that Trump obstructed justice. Apparently Trump knows it as well. After all, as I write this on Sunday night, we have yet to see any angry tweets from Trump about NBC peddling “FAKE NEWS!” Apparently he knows that Feinstein is definitely on to something.
(featured image courtesy Feinstein’s office, part of public domain)