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Schiff: Trump’s tweets are ‘evidence’ of obstruction of justice

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee plans to use President Trump’s latest tweets praising one witness for not testifying against him and saying another who did should go to jail as evidence that Trump has tried to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), who will have the power to set the agenda for intelligence investigations next year, told The Fix in a statement that Trump’s tweets add to “a growing body of evidence that the President is attempting to obstruct justice.”

“We must ensure that the Mueller investigation proceeds without political interference, and that any and all acts of obstruction are exposed, either by Mueller in his report or by the Congress,” Schiff said, referring to demands by Democrats and some Republicans that Congress pass legislation to protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in the event Trump wants to fire him.

On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also pointed to the tweets as a possible federal crime.

“This is serious. The President of the United States should not be using his platform to influence potential witnesses in a federal investigation involving his campaign,” Warner tweeted Monday.

Then Tuesday, Warner circled back to the issue, sharing on Twitter a LawFare article titled: “Is Donald Trump’s Tweet About Roger Stone Witness Tampering?” and tweeting with it: “Imagine if it were revealed that the President was calling Roger Stone or Michael Cohen and pressuring them not to testify. Are we really to believe it’s somehow ok that he’s pressuring them via Twitter?”

These bold assertions from two men who have tremendous insight into the Russia investigation based on their positions provides a glimpse into how Democrats will continue to seek evidence that Trump not only has some undisclosed ties to Russia but also has tried to obstruct justice to cover it up.

It’s also coming after last week’s admission by Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, that he had lied to Congress to protect the president, which is sure to have irked some lawmakers.

Schiff also wrote an op-ed for USA Today alleging that Trump is compromised by Russia. In it, Schiff floats the idea that Russia was laundering money through the Trump Organization.

This is not a new idea, but it’s significant when a member of Congress says it in the most widely circulated paper in the country.

But Democrats still aren’t using the big “I” word. They’re biding their time, collecting evidence such as Trump’s latest tweets.

As Barry Berke, a New York.-based white-collar defense lawyer, told The Washington Post’s Deanna Paul, “The tweets could be the basis for the House to determine if the president engaged in an abuse of power or worse.”

He noted that Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton both went down for obstruction of justice, which forced one to resign the presidency and got the other impeached by the House.