The Report: Part VIII: End Of The Beginning
September 24, 2019 5:36 PM - Subscribe

It's May 12, 2017. The FBI is still reeling from the sudden firing of Director James Comey. Andrew McCabe has only been the acting Director for 3 days. He's trying to talk to Rod Rosenstein about the issue weighing on his mind: how are they going to protect the Russia investigation? The FBI is already investigating whether the president has tried to interfere with that inquiry. But the Deputy Attorney General is distracted and upset; he can't believe the White House is making it look as if firing Comey were his idea. He says "There's no one I can talk to. There's no one here I can trust." McCabe urges Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel. The credibility of the FBI and DOJ are on the line; without a special counsel a firestorm threatens to destroy the nation's storied law enforcement institutions. It's five days later—Wednesday, May 17—when McCabe sits beside Rosenstein in the basement of the United States Capitol where they've assembled the Gang of Eight. Then Rosenstein announces that he's made a decision. He's appointed a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation and the new inquiry into the president: Robert S. Mueller III.

If Volume I is a spy thriller, then Volume II is a detective story. Mueller and his team are trying to solve the mystery of Russian election interference—and, for some reason, the president is trying to stop them. And so the president’s efforts to hamper the investigation become a story all its own. In this part, there’s only one question Mueller is trying to answer: whether or not the president obstructed justice by trying to limit the investigation of everything Mueller describes in Volume I.
posted by General Malaise (1 comment total)
It's interesting posting this episode just a few days from McCabe not getting indicted by the grand jury, and the same goddamned day that Pelosi announced that the House would be taking up an impeachment inquiry for an unrelated issue. But here we are, exploring what is meant by obstruction of justice, and what the crime entails. This episode just cracks the surface, but it's already evident that Mueller was screaming "there is plenty of evidence for this charge, but we can't make it."

I also recommend accompanying this episode with the newest episode of What Trump Can Teach Us about Con Law, a good podcast from Roman Mars from 99% Invisible, which is also about the legal basis for obstruction. The two podcast episodes are pretty much about the same subject, but from different and complementary angles.
posted by General Malaise at 5:40 PM on September 24, 2019

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