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Ex-Obama ethics chief: Trump tweets open him up to obstruction of justice charges

Ex-Obama ethics chief: Trump tweets open him up to obstruction of justice charges
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The former White House special counsel for ethics under President Obama in a new op-ed argues that President Trump’s “reckless tweeting” about the indictments in the Russia investigation could put him at legal risk.

Norm Eisen writes in USA Today that by tweeting about the indictments, Trump could be targeted for obstruction of justice by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“To say the least, it is very unusual for the president of the United States to attack a witness who is cooperating with the United States an ongoing federal investigation,” Eisen writes. “It raises obstruction of justice and witness intimidation questions, just as it did when the president similarly went after former FBI Directory James Comey [sic]. Think about it: When you are a witness in a case that threatens the most powerful man in the world, and he attacks you publicly, that is scary.”

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Eisen points specifically to Trump’s tweets about George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosMueller assembles team of cooperators in Russian probe Calif. man ensnared in Mueller probe sentenced to 6 months in prison The Mueller investigation: Where it stands at the midterms MORE, the former campaign aide whose guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians was unsealed Monday, along with an indictment charging former campaign chair Paul Manafort and a Manafort associate, Richard Gates.

Trump tweeted several times on Tuesday in response to the indictments, repeating his claim that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, noting that the charges against Manafort and Gates covered a period before they joined the campaign, and calling Papadopoulos a “liar” and “low-level volunteer.”

Eisen writes that Trump’s tweets risk his relationship with the special counsel, make an already-challenging investigation even more difficult and increase the likelihood that Mueller will take action against Trump.

“By attacking Papadopoulos as a liar, Trump hardly signals his good faith to Mueller,” Eisen writes. “After all, Mueller is offering Papadopoulos's testimony as true. So Trump is not just assaulting the special counsel’s cooperator; Trump is contradicting Mueller, and maybe even hinting that Mueller is intentionally offering the testimony of a liar.”