NBC reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is keenly interested in whether Donald Trump Senior drafted a public statement about Donald Trump Junior’s meeting with Russian operatives knowing that the statement was false.
Talking heads all over TV tonight are stumped: why does Mueller care about a statement Senior drafted to cover Junior’s posterior when the statement was not made under oath — and when it’s not illegal to lie to the media or the public?
One more time for old time’s sake; here are the elements of obstruction of justice:
So the elements are 1) trying to influence 2) a known formal investigatory proceeding 3) with corrupt intent.
Commentators — even legal commentators — routinely fail to distinguish between this crime (obstruction) and perjury. Perjury requires that the lying defendant have been under oath at the time of the relevant lie; obstruction does not.
If Mueller concludes that Trump was using his misleading statement to throw investigators or grand jurors off Trump or Trump Junior’s trail in a corrupt attempt to influence the investigation into the Trump-Russia collusion probe, then Mueller is going to pursue Trump for obstruction — because that conduct, even if it would not constitute perjury, would meet the elements of obstruction.
Mueller is not interested in Trump’s statement and Trump’s intent in writing the statement because he’s on some fishing expedition or because he’s looking for this amorphous beast called “consciousness of guilt.”
He’s focusing on the Trump statement because he’s going after Donald Trump himself — the president of the United States — for obstruction of justice.
You heard it here first.