Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Obstruction score card - Bill Clinton 4, President Trump 0

Bill Clinton was investigated by Independent Counsel Ken Starr. Starr reported that he found evidence of eleven cases of obstruction of justice; four of them cited were perjury in court deposition, perjury before grand jury and two cases of interfering with a witness. In the Mueller investigation he did not report any such violation.

Below Bob Barr who was a Representative in 1997 explains the difference:

Bob Barr: Trump shouldn’t be impeached, but Bill Clinton’s impeachment was justified – Here’s why | Fox News:

… The House Judiciary Committee hearings established as well, and also among other offenses, that Clinton ‘corruptly engaged in … a scheme to conceal evidence that had been subpoenaed in a federal civil rights action brought against him.’

Contrast the extensive record of specific acts by President Clinton to corruptly influence ongoing legal proceedings in federal court (the Paula Jones case and the independent counsel grand jury proceedings), with the obstruction currently alleged to have been committed by President Trump.

All allegations of obstruction leveled at Trump arise from something far less legally substantive than the circumstance under which Clinton was impeached. There is no legal proceeding against Trump in which he has been alleged to have corruptly acted; there is only an investigation (of collusion with Russia) by Mueller that found nothing prosecutable against the current president.

Moreover, there are no civil proceedings targeting President Trump in which he is alleged to have corruptly acted, as existed in the 1998 case against President Clinton.

Clinton did far more than lash out at his tormentors, who included Starr. And Clinton’s actions went far beyond indirectly urging his tormentors to stop mistreating him and those in his administration. These allegations are the essence of the obstruction charges House Democrats now seek to advance against Trump.

I realize all this is complicated and may be hard to follow. But the bottom line is this President Clinton interfered in a judicial proceeding against himself, and President Trump did not. For this reason, Clinton deserved to be impeached but Trump does not.

The Founding Fathers deliberately made the impeachment process very difficult. They did not want impeachment used as a tool to enable Congress to easily remove the president over policy and political disagreements.

Congressional Democrats opposed to President Trump have every right to vote against his legislative proposals, to challenge his actions in office with lawsuits, and to work to defeat him in the November 2020 election. But right now they don’t have grounds to impeach him.

Former Rep. Bob Barr was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia from 1995 to 2003. He is now president of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation.