Wednesday, May 17, 2017
"...What is obstruction of justice?
Several federal statutes criminalize actions that impede official investigations. While some examples of illegal ways to thwart the justice system are specific — like killing a witness or destroying evidence — the law also includes broad, catchall prohibitions. For example, Sections 1503, 1505 and 1512 of Title 18 have variants of language making it a crime if someone corruptly “obstructs, influences or impedes any official proceeding.”
Could that cover asking the F.B.I. director to drop part of an investigation, and later firing him?
In theory, yes. Such statutes were broadly drafted. Julie O’Sullivan, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches white-collar criminal law at Georgetown University, said the power relationship between a president and the F.B.I. director could elevate a request to shut down a case into an act that amounts to impeding an official investigation.
“He really needs a lawyer,” Ms. O’Sullivan said of Mr. Trump. “He is building a beautiful case against himself.”
What Is Obstruction of Justice? An Often Murky Crime, Explained - The New York Times