Some lawmakers accuse the president Donald Trump of having obstructed justice after it was revealed that the director of the FBI James Comey wrote in his notes that the trustee had asked him to to set aside the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn .
The version only raised the alarm of the Democratic lawmakers, who even before he dismissed Comey thought that Trump was trying to prevent a survey on the relationship between his presidential campaign partners and Russia. New requests came from a special investigator and Senator Richard Blumenthal said in a statement that "we are witnessing a real-time obstruction of justice."
1. What does it mean to obstruct justice?
In short, to prevent authorities – police or prosecutors – from investigating situations and enforcing laws.
2. What was Trump supposed to do?
Comey wrote that Trump asked him to put an end to an investigation of Flynn when they met in February in the White House. Comey, who is known to take notes of his most important meetings, recounted the episode in a memo he wrote shortly after the conversation, according to a close associate of the former official who saw the document and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity . Flynn had been forced to resign as national security adviser for lying about the nature of his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
The White House denied that Trump had said what the Comey memo attributes to him.
3. Is that obstructing justice?
On a strictly legal level, Trump's request would not fit within the parameters contemplated by the justice that would constitute obstruction of justice, according to experts. There are no statutes that contemplate that specific situation.
No one would write federal statutes with this situation in mind because it is something extraordinary, "said Jens David Ohlin, dean of the Cornell University Law School.
Immerse yourself in a federal investigation could be seen as an obstruction of a judicial proceeding. But the prosecutor would have to prove that the president was trying to influence research through irregular methods, and proving that can be difficult.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said that Trump may offer several arguments in his defense.
You can say that he raised a topic that concerned him with an old acquaintance, "Turley said. "That does not mean that the order was not totally inappropriate and, frankly, stupid."
4. Is there evidence?
Comey Memos can be valuable in an investigation of possible obstruction.
It is a written account of Comey almost contemporary of what the president said, "said Bob Bauer, who was a White House counselor during the presidency of Barack Obama. "That's obviously a very powerful element."
But because there are no recordings, a memo can be seen as something that does not prove anything, like the version of one side that contradicts the other, said former prosecutor Jonathan Lopez.
Apart from this, there is a witness: Comey
The best way to know what happened at that meeting would be to call him as a witness, "said former Michigan District Attorney Barbara McQuade.
5. If you're not guilty, what can you do?
Even if he is not found guilty of violating any law, such an order can lead to a political trial
There is a pattern – the firing of Comey and telling him to end the investigation of Flynn–, things he does because he wants to stop an investigation so that he does not involve the high officials of his government, and such Time to himself, "Ohlin said. "It's a way of trying to take advantage of their position that is intolerable."
But Turley believes that may not be enough.
What we have is a memo in which a president asks very inappropriate questions to an FBI director, "he said. "This would not even reach a political trial."