Former Independent Prosecutor Ken Starr: No Obstruction Case Against Trump
Ken Starr, the former independent prosecutor who is remembered for his investigations against Bill Clinton, doesn't think there is an obstruction of justice case against President Trump.
In an appearance on CNN's New Day on Thursday, Starr told anchor Alisyn Camerota that while it was "too soon to tell," there is nothing to indicate yet that Trump committed obstruction of justice.
"Obstruction of justice is really a very hard crime to make out," Starr said. "It's not just you want the investigation to go away, you suggest that the investigation goes away – you have to take really affirmative action."
Starr added that James Comey continued on with the investigation even after Trump said he hoped that Comey would let Mike Flynn off easy, meaning that it would be difficult to prove an obstruction of justice case.
"Crimes should be difficult to prove," Starr said.
Camerota then played a clip of Comey stating during his hearing that he took Trump's statement to him as an order, but Comey didn't follow it. Camerota asked Starr if there would be an obstruction of justice case against Trump if Comey had followed Trump's order.
"His literal language was hope, and I think that goes down to the benefit of the president," Starr responded. "He's saying, 'Golly, I sure wish this would go away. It's in the way of my agenda. I need to run the country, and this is a terrible distraction. I hope you can see your way clear.' That to me, just the language, is far removed from a directive."
Starr continued, "The director of the FBI then didn't act on that. He rather just continued as before."
Starr's full appearance on CNN can be seen below:
Democrats who still remember Starr from the Clinton days will likely scoff at him, but his analysis is correct. As Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro explained, Trump's actions do not appear to have violated any of the following federal laws in regards to obstruction of justice:
1. 18 USC 1503: This “omnibus” clause covers “corruptly or…by any threatening letter or communication influenc[ing], or imped[ing] or endeavor[ing[ to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice.” But the clause also requires a pending judicial proceeding – and as far as we are all aware, there is none. Furthermore, the Supreme Court is quite exacting on the application of this law – a prosecutor would need to prove that Trump’s conduct materially impeded the investigation, which even Comey has said didn’t happen.
2. 18 USC 1512(c): This provision of law covers anyone who “obstructs, influences, or impedes an official proceeding, or attempts to do so.” It is not clear that an FBI investigation is an “official proceeding,” and proving intent is difficult in any case. And it’s not enough to show intent to violate the subsection – you have to take a “substantial step toward the accomplishment of that goal.”
3. 18 USC 1519: This provision covers destroying evidence related to a federal investigation. There are no accusations that Trump destroyed evidence. Unless Trump had tapes and destroyed them, the statue simply doesn’t apply.
Unless special counsel Robert Mueller unearths a new piece of evidence proving otherwise or lets his friendship with Comey get in the way of a fair investigation, there won't be obstruction of justice charges against Trump.
H/T: The Hill