Opinion writer

Republicans for the Rule of Law, a new conservative group seeking to push back against President Trump and Trumpism and defend democratic norms and institutions, is out with a new ad:

The analogy to Watergate is hardly a stretch. For all the Trump defenders claiming that “no collusion” (no conspiracy to seek help from a foreign government and/or defraud the United States) renders the entire Russia investigation illegitimate, we are reminded that President Richard Nixon did not break into the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee. The High Crimes and Misdemeanors listed in the Nixon articles of impeachment had to do with Nixon’s conduct after the break-in.

Specifically Article I stated that the offenses included:

  1. Making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;
  2. Withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;
  3. Approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings;
  4. Interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees;
  5. Approving, condoning, and acquiescing in, the surreptitious payment of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses, potential witnesses or individuals who participated in such unlawful entry and other illegal activities;
  6. Endeavoring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States;
  7. Disseminating information received from officers of the Department of Justice of the United States to subjects of investigations conducted by lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States, for the purpose of aiding and assisting such subjects in their attempts to avoid criminal liability;
  8. Making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct: or
  9. Endeavoring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favored treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony. [Emphasis added.]

One gets to a similar list if one concludes the following were intended to halt and/or curtail the Russia investigation and prosecution of Trump’s cohort: the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey, constant threats to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, spread of deliberately false conspiracy theories to smear investigators, dissemination of a phony rationale for firing Comey, an attempt to stop the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, authorized release of a known-to-be false memo from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) attacking the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant, demands that Attorney General Jeff Sessions not recuse himself (and then un-recuse himself after he did) and shut down the investigation, and the creation of a phony story to explain the Trump Tower meeting. (I’m not even including Trump’s possible knowledge and assent before the Trump Tower meeting.) That is all quite apart from any scheme to hide payments to women in the waning days of the presidential campaign.

In short, even without firing Mueller and/or Rosenstein, does anyone think prosecutors won’t be able to put together a plausible, even compelling case, for obstruction of justice?