In response to the President’s apparent interference with a criminal investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017, the Impeach Donald Trump Now Campaign is now including additional grounds in its call for impeachment. Specifically, Congress’s impeachment investigation should include (in addition to the President’s violations of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses) whether the President has — in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed — prevented, obstructed or impeded the administration of justice.
On the date of his firing, Director Comey was leading one or more investigations that might have incriminated President Trump and/or close associates. Regardless of the ultimate outcome of those criminal investigations, President Trump interfered with them by firing Director Comey. Those investigations might have ultimately led to obstruction of justice charges. Obstruction of justice is undoubtedly an impeachable offense; it was the first article of impeachment against President Nixon , and in 1998 the House of Representatives approved an article of impeachment against President Clinton for obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice includes, but is not limited to, the following federal criminal offenses:
- 18 U.S.C. § 1503 – Influencing officer. This statute provides for punishment of up to ten years’ imprisonment for “[w]hoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any . . . officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate, in the discharge of his duty, . . . or corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice.”
- 18 U.S.C. § 1505 – Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees. This statute provides for punishment of up to five years’ imprisonment for “[w]hoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress.”
The House of Representatives should immediately open an investigation into whether preparation of articles of impeachment is justified by President Trump’s violations of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the United States Constitution as well as his interference with a criminal investigation by the firing of Director Comey.