Goes to intent

Business Insider argues that Trump’s pardon of Arpaio, coupled with his asking Sessions months ago if he could get the case dropped, undercuts the claim by Trump allies that he didn’t actually order Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, he merely expressed a hope.

When Trump allegedly asked Sessions this past spring whether it would be possible to drop the federal criminal investigation into Arpaio, Sessions told Trump such a move would be inappropriate, but that Trump could pardon Arpaio if he was convicted, The Post reported, citing three people familiar with the conversation.

Trump ultimately granted the pardon on Friday evening, sparking fierce backlash from liberals and some conservatives.

But some legal analysts also pointed out that Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio, and the actions he took preceding that, may serve as an important piece of evidence to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is reportedly investigating the president for obstruction of justice.

It has to do with his intent in that February conversation with Comey.

According to Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June, Trump privately told Comey, who was spearheading the FBI’s Russia probe at the time, he “hoped” Comey would “let this go,” referring to the investigation.

Several Trump allies and Republican lawmakers have since grasped those words and said they do not prove Trump tried to obstruct justice by asking Comey to drop the investigation and subsequently firing him.

They resorted to the hyper-literal Nice Little Place defense: saying “nice little place you got here, would be a shame if it burned down” is just an observation like “rainy today isn’t it.” Senator Jim Risch of Idaho did a little dance with Comey, insisting that Trump never issued an order of the form “drop the investigation into Flynn.” Right, and by the same token, a man inviting a woman to his hotel room for coffee at 4 a.m. is absolutely not a lightly veiled sexual overture, it’s all about the caffeine.

When Comey said that despite Trump’s words, he took it as a direction from the president of the United States, Risch said, “You may have taken it as a direction, but that’s not what he said.”

The main thing Mueller — who was put in charge of the Russia investigation after Trump fired Comey — would need to prove in an obstruction of justice case is whether Trump acted with corrupt, or unlawful, intent when he asked the FBI director to drop the Flynn investigation.

“[Trump’s] defense would be that he thought it was appropriate to end the Flynn investigation because it was meritless and that there was nothing wrong with him, as president, making that determination,” Mariotti told Business Insider.

But the president’s decision to pardon Arpaio demonstrates that “this has become a pattern of activity where he tries to end investigations of his friends,” he added. “Everything he said, did, and was told as to Arpaio is relevant to help us understand what he was thinking when he tried to end the Flynn investigation.”

He was barely in the door when he started trying to end investigations of his friends.

It’s a tall order when most of your friends are corrupt in one way or another, but Trump enjoys a challenge. Well not a challenge exactly, but an opportunity to bully. That’s what Trump really enjoys. He likes to be in a position of power so that he can tell others “You’re fired” or “You’re pardoned” according to his own tastes and whims.

Comments are closed.