While it is widely believed that Robert Mueller and his special counsel team are investigating whether the firing of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE could provide grounds for a charge of obstruction of justice, pro-Trump Republican members of Congress appear to be waging an orchestrated political war against the FBI as an institution and against Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe as a law enforcement professional.
Let’s be clear about the enormous and destructive implications of this war against the FBI and this war against McCabe, which could lead to impeachment and become a front-page issue in 2018.
In my view, if Trump were to fire Mueller it would be an impeachable offense. If Trump were to pardon leading suspects or witnesses in the Russia case it would be impeachable offense. If Trump is found to have colluded with pro-Trump Republicans in Congress in their war against the FBI or their war against McCabe, that would be an impeachable offense as well.
The big truth is that to the degree that there was bias in the FBI before the 2016 election, that bias was in favor of Trump, and demonstrated by Comey’s intervention in the final days of the campaign.
Comey’s intervention, which I long ago called on the Justice Department inspector general to investigate, was not because of bias in favor of Trump but because of a major misjudgment by Comey, as well as and fear of pro-Trump members of Congress who spent four years misusing taxpayer money to wage a vendetta and inquisition against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE. The real fake news is for any Republican to suggest that prior to the election the FBI was biased against Trump, when in fact the actions of the FBI director before the election, taken for whatever reason, helped elect Trump.
It is said by Trump defenders that the firing of Comey alone cannot constitute obstruction of justice because the president has the right to fire Comey. I agree with this, on both counts, but that is not the issue regarding potential obstruction of justice.
The real issue regarding obstruction of justice is whether the president repeatedly fired those investigating the Russian attack against America that intelligence, counter-intelligence and law enforcement unequivocally state has happened, and continues today.
It is not the firing of Comey alone that could constitute obstruction of justice. It is the firing of former New York U.S. Attorney Preet BhararaPreet BhararaWhatever else he did, Cuomo did not obstruct justice by ranting to Obama White House Why Trump (probably) won't be indicted New York Times in discussions to acquire The Athletic: report MORE, the firing of former Acting Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesSally Yates: I never thought that I'd be saying, 'Yeah, go Liz Cheney' ABC lands first one-on-one TV interview with Garland since confirmation Appointing a credible, non-partisan Jan. 6 commission should not be difficult MORE, repeated attacks or pressure against Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE, harsh criticism of Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE, attacks against the FBI as an institution, attacks against Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, comparing the CIA to Nazi Germany while the CIA was combatting the Russian attack against America, attacking congressional investigations of the Russian attack as witch hunts promoting fake news, calling the free press the enemy of the people for reporting about the Russian attacks against America, and now attacks against Robert Mueller and the FBI by pro-Trump members of Congress that add up to a potential charge for obstruction of justice.
In the context of these repeated and aggressive attacks on leading individuals and institutions investigating the Russian attacks against America, and whether there was any coordination or involvement of any Americans, the current attacks against McCabe and the FBI from pro-Trump partisans in Congress have ominous legal and national security implications.
Personally, when Russia attacks America, I am on the American team. Whatever their motives, when Russia attacks America and pro-Trump partisans repeatedly and aggressively attack, undermine or seek to discredit those investigating the Russian assault against American democracy, they are treading on dangerous and destructive territory.
My view, and I hope I am wrong, is that there is a high probability that Trump will fire Mueller, fire Rosenstein, fire McCabe, and/or pardon leading Trump associates who are suspects or witnesses in the Russia scandal.
It is ominous and inspiring that Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerAdvocates call on top Democrats for 0B in housing investments Democrats draw red lines in spending fight Manchin puts foot down on key climate provision in spending bill MORE (D-Va.), one of the leaders of the American team investigating and countering the Russian attack, felt compelled to publicly warn the president of the grave constitutional crisis that would inevitably follow if he were to fire Mueller.
Warner is right, and patriotic Americans should unite and applaud him. Any war against Mueller, and any war against the FBI, will ultimately be defeated, one way or the other.
America stands on the precipice of a great constitutional crisis. Every Republican should join every Democrat in and take a stand of conscience and patriotism at a critical moment in American history—and warn the president to not cross a red line that would be a disaster for his presidency and our country.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.