Obstruction of justice, along with false testimony, is the trap into which politicians tend to fall in the United States. Trump and his administration are heading straight toward it.
While another judge (a federal judge who has federal jurisdiction) was dealing another blow to Donald Trump by blocking his attempt to withhold funds from sanctuary cities for undocumented residents, in Washington the White House took another step toward a constitutional crisis resulting from “Russiagate.” Administration officials have refused to turn over documents related to former Gen. Mike Flynn to the congressional commissions investigating possible Russian interference in the presidential election campaign.
Flynn was chosen by Trump to serve as national security advisor, an office that has played a key role since the Cold War era, as it is charged with informing and advising the president on crucial strategic choices, often related to war. Flynn was “retired” on the spot, barely 20 days after entering office, after national media published news about how he hid his relationships with Moscow, including financial ones, and about how he lied to Vice President Pence about those relationships.
The former general had led the “Lock ‘Er Up” chants against Hillary Clinton at rallies as well as at the Republican National Convention. Now he is the one who risks being put on trial. However, Flynn’s future is of little consequence. What prompts scenarios of a judicial and constitutional crisis is the White House’s “nyet,” its attempt to stonewall. Stonewall, i.e., stall, was former President Richard Nixon’s order to his underlings to stop the Watergate investigation. Stonewalling consists of attempts to oppose inquiries that are currently conducted only by Congress, and therefore without immediate legal repercussions. However, in a not too distant future, the investigation may be handled by the courts.
The past teaches us that alleged crimes imputed to presidents are never the reason why they land in trouble. It is rather their attempt to “stonewall” and impede the course of investigation that makes them stagger or fall. That was the case for Nixon, for Ronald Reagan when it came to the illegal funding of the Contras in Nicaragua, and for Bill Clinton, as he struggled to deflect inquiries about his dangerous liaisons. Obstruction of justice, along with false testimony, is the trap into which politicians tend to fall in the United States. Trump and his administration are heading straight toward it.