Washington, DC—President Donald Trump may have violated criminal obstruction of justice laws by firing FBI director James Comey in an apparent attempt to impede an FBI investigation into the president, according to a request for investigation filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
President Trump’s statements, together with the reported statements of other senior officials, indicate that the decision to fire Director Comey was made in connection with the ongoing investigation into Russian interference with the election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. President Trump has consistently made clear his anger about the investigation, and his and his senior officials’ statements make clear that they want the investigation to end quickly. The statements suggest that Director Comey may have in fact been fired to bring about that result.
“Months ago, we called for a special counsel to conduct an unbiased investigation into the Trump-Russia affair,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “Now it unfortunately looks like that the president may be willing to interfere with the FBI’s investigation to keep the truth from coming out. Truth is the backbone of democracy, and we cannot allow it to be concealed.”
Federal obstruction of justice statutes prohibit the interfering with an investigation for the purpose of impeding its outcome, which it appears President Trump may have done with his firing of Director Comey.
“This situation could not be more serious,” Bookbinder said. “We understand that opening such an investigation is a momentous step, and the decision to do so should not be taken lightly. But given the emerging and troubling evidence of potential obstruction, we believe that there is no acceptable alternative to an immediate and credible investigation to resolve these questions.”