Top Democrat Feinstein says an obstruction-of-justice case against Trump is building
A Senate investigation into connections between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 US election suggests that a potential case of obstruction of justice is developing against the president, Senator Dianne Feinstein said Sunday.
“What we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice,” Feinstein, the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said about the committee’s investigation.
“We see this in the indictments, the four indictments, and pleas that have just taken place, and some of the comments that are being made,” said Feinstein, who is also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House: the comments every day, the continual tweets.”
Feinstein, on NBC’s Meet the Press, was referring to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, who face charges including money laundering in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation; former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos; and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Papadopoulos and Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Feinstein said the most important instance was Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, which she believes was “directly because he did not agree to ‘lift the cloud’ of the Russia investigation” as he said Trump requested.
“That’s obstruction of justice,” Feinstein said.
Trump has denied asking Comey to halt the FBI’s investogation of Flynn, before firing Comey.
Feinstein said her concern about the Trump White House “rises with the day” and hit a tipping point about a month ago. “There is a kind of instability, unpredictability,” she said. “It’s one issue after the other.”
In a statement released Friday, Feinstein called Flynn’s guilty plea on Friday regarding his conversations with Russians a “stunning revelation.”
“This shows a Trump associate negotiating with the Russians against US policy and interests before Donald Trump took office and after it was announced that Russia had interfered in our election,” Feinstein said in the statement.
Asked Sunday on NBC whether Trump is a target of the investigation, Feinstein said she assumes that “many in the White House are under investigation in this” and that she doesn’t believe that Flynn “was a rogue agent.”
“I think he had to have been directed,” Feinstein said. “Now whether the special counsel can find that evidence or not, whether we can, I don’t know yet. But I see that that’s where this is going.”
Also on Meet the Press, Republican Senator Susan Collins, said Mueller’s investigation was “making progress.”
Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she didn’t know whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, “but what we do know is there were conversations during the transition period.”
There’s only one president during the transition period and that was Barack Obama, so those conversations “should not have been taking place, but that does not confirm collusion,” Collins said.