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In regards to emails exchanged between Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner, and the Russian Lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya that led the infamous meeting between the Trump team and the lawyer, Trump attempted to hide these emails from the press. The following analyzes if the action of hiding this from the press counts as obstruction.
Potential Obstructive Act:
“On at least three occasions between June 29, 2017, and July 9, 2017, the President directed Hicks and others not to publicly disclose information about the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and a Russian attorney”
- June 29th – When told about the emails possibly becoming public, Trump told Kushner to leave the situation alone on June 29
- July 8th – Trump told adviser Hope Hicks not to comment when she told him that New York Times was working on a story about the email
- July 8th – When Trump Jr.’s draft statement acknowledged the Russian lawyer, Trump Hicks to say the meeting was about adoption
“Each of these efforts by the President involved his communications team and was directed at the press. They would amount to obstructive acts only if the President, by taking these actions, sought to withhold information from or mislead congressional investigators or the Special Counsel.”
“The evidence does not establish that the President took steps to prevent the emails or other information about the June 9 meeting from being provided to Congress or the Special Counsel.”
Nexus to an official proceeding:
“To satisfy the nexus requirement,… it would be necessary to show that preventing the release of the emails to the public would have the natural and probable effect of impeding the grand jury proceeding or congressional inquiries…the evidence does not establish that the President sought to prevent disclosure of the emails in those official proceedings.”
“Evidence does not establish that the President intended to prevent the Special Counsel’s Office or Congress from obtaining the emails setting up the June 9 meeting or other information about that meeting.”
Verdict: There is insufficient evidence to find Trump guilty of obstructing justice in this specific situation.