New York Times reporters Michael S. Schmidt and Jasmine C. Lee offered free advice for special counsel Robert Mueller against President Trump in their timeline article, “How Trump’s Public and Private Acts Line Up in a Possible Obstruction Case,” yet they neglect to mention a key component behind the definition of obstruction: evidence of impeding an investigation.
Missing in their free advice timeline describing events around the firing of James Comey and other events is any evidence that Trump was being investigated by the FBI.
“The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is scrutinizing some of President Trump’s Twitter posts and public statements to determine whether he was trying to obstruct the Russia investigation,” the Times writes. “Mr. Trump’s lawyers say he was simply trying to defend himself, but several of the remarks, directed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, came around the time the president was also privately pressuring the men about the inquiry.”
The Times leaves out that Comey, as he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, told President Trump three times that the President was not under investigation by the FBI.
“Mr. Trump calls Mr. Comey for an update on his request that Mr. Comey put out word that the president was not under investigation in the Russia inquiry,” the Times timeline reads. “Mr. Comey demurs. Mr. Trump raises questions about Mr. Comey’s loyalty, a highly unusual subject given the degree of independence typically granted to federal law enforcement by the White House.”
According to Comey’s testimony: “I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally,” Comey said. “That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.”
By definition, obstruction of justice involves impeding an investigation.