You know how people always warn you to be careful what you post on social media because it could lead to your impeachment and removal from office? No? Then no wonder Trump seems so clueless.
Last week a report came out that Mueller is scrutinizing Trump's tweets and other negative statements about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former FBI director James Comey. Specifically, he focused on the tweets that he a-tweeted around the time he was privately pressing both men to end the Russian investigation.
So true. What a guy, right? Still, based on what we're hearing it seems that Mueller believes he might have an obstruction case on his hands. The thing is, usually obstruction cases are about measures taken in private. The fact that Trump's Twitter attacks on Sessions and Comey were meant to intimidate them and were made in public is a pretty unusual wrinkle in a case like this.
We already know Trump had private interactions with Comey, Sessions and other senior administration officials during which he pressed them to squash the Russia case, put out misleading White House statements, publically attacked people involved in the case, and even offered possible pardons to potential witnesses. But one of the reasons we can piece together the timeline is because of the way Trump conducted himself on Twitter.
Example one: remember when Trump said on Twitter that he should have chosen another Attorney General? We now know that at that time, he already knew Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Trump tried to convince Sessions to reverse that decision, and even pressured him to resign so he could appoint somebody who would intervene in Mueller's investigation, but eventually Trump settled for just attacking him publically. (Reminder: Sessions is his OWN Attorney General. That he appointed. Okay crazy...)
Example two: a similar pattern happened with Comey. In March 2017, Trump asked Comey to say that he was not under investigation. When Comey snitched on him for saying that, Trump issued a statement with a vague indirect threat about Comey's job. A couple days later, he fired Comey, theoretically because of his management of the Clinton private email server investigation. But it wasn't over! Once Comey was gone, there was a threat he'd talk so Trump started attacking him on Twitter.
Both of these men had refused to end an investigation into Trump's campaign's wrongdoings, so this pattern is basically the equivalent of a mob boss trying to thwart an FBI investigation through intimidation. Trump is still not sure why he can't just take these people out like in the movies. After all, would that be great for his ratings?
Trump's lawyers have said that none of what Mueller is now focusing on constitutes obstruction. Still, Mueller could connect several instances of this behavior and piece together a case that Trump took a broad effort to interfere with the investigation. This is based on a wide-ranging obstruction of justice law that was supercharted after the Enron accounting scandal. We've accused other presidents in the past of privately trying to influence witness testimony, but Trump's situation is a little different since most of his attacks are in public. If Mueller decides to go down this route, he'd need credible witnesses and evidence that Trump had criminal intent.