While Democrats claim that Republicans are hypocrites for failing to sound off loudly enough against President Trump’s alleged “obstruction of justice,” some top Democrats have gone completely silent on what looks exactly like obstruction of justice by Obama attorney general Loretta Lynch. During his testimony on Capitol Hill last week, former FBI director James Comey stated that Lynch told him she wanted him to treat his “investigation” into Hillary Clinton as a “matter” instead; Comey testified that made him feel “queasy.” Not queasy enough to reveal that information, of course, and not queasy enough to reject her order. But queasy.
Obstruction of justice is defined most broadly under 18 USC 1503 as “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.” This provision doesn’t cover congressional or administrative proceedings, but it would cover criminal investigations. It would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lynch participated in obstruction, since she could claim that there was no pending judicial proceeding — and Comey’s decision to essentially let Lynch off the hook by exonerating Hillary himself gives her cover for that decision. But there is no question that Lynch’s interference into the Hillary matter should raise hackles.
Yet Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is already preparing to give Lynch the benefit of the doubt. While Schumer says that Trump’s comments to Comey regarding Mike Flynn must be treated with the highest level of scrutiny — “He’s the President of the United States, he’s got to step up to the plate” — the far more legally knowledgeable Lynch gets a pass. “All I am saying with Loretta Lynch,” Schumer explained, “is before anyone jumps to any conclusions, we ought to hear what she has to say and let her state something privately and see if it makes much of a difference. I don’t know that it will.”
The point here isn’t that Lynch could be convicted of obstruction. But while Democrats chide Republicans for their willingness to ignore supposed obstruction by Trump, they’re ignoring activity at least as nefarious from Lynch — and Comey. Because here’s the problem. If Lynch’s defense to obstruction is that there was no pending proceeding thanks to Comey, and Comey has said he felt pressure from Lynch to change his practice on the case and then dumped the proceeding, isn’t that at least as bad as what happened with Trump? Wouldn’t that impact Comey’s credibility as a strong, upright fellow if he caved to please Lynch and then carried water for Trump until he was fired?
But hypocrisy is blooming on all sides these days.