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President Donald Trump put his hand on the shoulder of Sen. Jeff Sessions after introducing him before Sessions's swearing in ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House February 9, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Obstruction Evidence Mounts as Critics Say Trump Move to Stop Sessions Recusal 'Screams of Guilt'

Though obstruction of justice difficult to prove, Trump "doing everything he can to help Mueller do it," argued former White House ethics chief

Jake Johnson

In a revelation viewed by some lawmakers and legal experts as yet more evidence that President Donald Trump has obstructed justice, the New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump ordered White House counsel Donald McGahn to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the FBI's Russia probe in a bid to maintain his "grip" on the investigation.

"The repeated attempts by the president of the United States to influence the criminal investigation against him, such as this attempt to order AG Jeff Sessions to not recuse, screams consciousness of guilt."
—Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)

McGahn proceeded to carry out Trump's demand by lobbying Sessions—a move slammed by former Office of Government Ethics head Walter Shaub as an attempt to convince Sessions to "break the law"—but the effort ultimately failed.

When Sessions recused himself last March, Trump "erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him," according to the Times.

"Where's my Roy Cohn?" the president reportedly exclaimed, referring to his former lawyer, who also worked for the red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Cohn was disbarred from practicing law in New York in 1986 on charges of "unethical" behavior.

Trump has previously aired his grievances with Sessions over his recusal in public—calling him a "disappointment"—but critics interpreted Trump's behind-closed-doors effort to keep the Russia probe under his control as another piece of evidence in a cumulative case that the president obstructed the ongoing Russia probe.

Noting that it is far from easy to prove obstruction—given that corrupt intent must be demonstrated—Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) chair Norm Eisen argued the Times report shows that "Trump is doing everything he can to help [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller do it."

As the Times reports, Mueller has learned about Trump's push to stop Sessions from recusing himself and is investigating the effort as part of his Russia probe, which the White House has attempted to discredit as a "hoax."

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a former prosecutor, took to Twitter following the Times revelations to argue that "the repeated attempts by the president of the United States to influence the criminal investigation against him, such as this attempt to order AG Jeff Sessions to not recuse, screams consciousness of guilt."

As Common Dreams reported last October, an in-depth analysis of Trump's actions during the first months of his presidency by CREW concluded it is "likely" that Trump obstructed justice by interfering with "the investigations into Michael Flynn and Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election through various actions, including the termination of James Comey."

Following the Times report, Eisen concluded that it "seems like a good morning to circulate" the paper once more.


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'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

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