May 30, 2018
Adding to the "mountain of evidence" that President Donald Trump has obstructed justice and indicating that special counsel Robert Mueller's probe is continuing to expand, the New York Timesreported late Tuesday that Mueller is examining a meeting last March during which Trump ordered Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal from the FBI's Russia investigation.
After ranting to aides that "he needed a loyalist overseeing" the Russia probe, Trump told Sessions during dinner at Mar-a-Lago to walk back his decision to recuse himself from the investigation--a move that was required by Justice Department guidelines that "are in place to prevent the sort of political meddling the president tried to engage in," the Times notes.
Sessions ultimately refused Trump's demand.
The special counsel's reported interest Trump's meeting with the attorney general "demonstrates Mr. Sessions' overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct" the Russia investigation, the Times observed. "It also suggests that the obstruction investigation is broader than it is widely understood to be--encompassing not only the president's interactions with and firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey."
Responding to the Times report on Tuesday, legal expert and former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti argued in a series of tweets that Trump's "repeated attempts to push Sessions to reassert control over the Russia investigation" constitute "very strong evidence" that the president has obstructed justice.
\u201cTHREAD: Are the revelations in today's @nytimes article, including Trump's repeated attempts to push Sessions to reassert control over the Russia investigation, evidence of obstruction of justice? (Short answer: Very strong evidence.)\u201d— Renato Mariotti (@Renato Mariotti) 1527640923
\u201c9/ The hard part of proving obstruction of justice is proving the "corrupt" intent of the defendant. In other words, proving the person acted with the intent to unlawfully impede the investigation. Today's news adds to the mountain of evidence of Trump's intent to obstruct.\u201d— Renato Mariotti (@Renato Mariotti) 1527640923
"Given this bizarre timeline of behavior by Trump, it's hard to conclude that Trump doesn't want Sessions to improperly impede the Mueller investigation, which is strong evidence that Trump wanted to impede the investigation when he fired Comey," Mariotti concluded.
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