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Trump’s complaint about Comey’s ‘leak’ could be obstruction of justice — here’s why

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President Donald Trump’s attorney intends to file a complaint with the Justice Department against former FBI director James Comey for his “leak” of a personal memo to a friend who then passed along the document to reporters.

That complaint, and the president’s Friday morning tweet griping about Comey’s action, could be considered obstruction of justice, according to a legal expert who spoke to the Washington Post.

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Stephen Kohn, a lawyer who specializes in whistleblower protection, dismissed the pending complaint by Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz as “frivolous grandstanding” because the Justice Department’s inspector general no longer had any authority over Comey as a private citizen.

But he said the complaint, which Kasowitz also plans to file with the Senate Judiciary Committee, is legally problematic for the president.

“Initiating an investigation because you don’t like somebody’s testimony could be considered obstruction,” Kohn told the newspaper, “and in the whistleblower context, it’s both evidence of retaliation and, under some laws, could be an adverse retaliatory act itself.”

Comey testified under oath that he wrote the memo documenting his private conversation with the president, before Trump fired him as FBI director, and then gave his notes to a friend and directed him to share them with the New York Times.

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Kohn said Comey’s actions, as described to lawmakers, are not illegal because the president’s activity is not confidential or classified, and executive privilege is aimed at protecting the chief executive’s deliberative process in some instances — but not this one.

“The reason why that is protected constitutionally is that the courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court — have ruled that the public has a constitutional right to hear this information,” Kohn said.

Kohn said Trump and his legal team almost certainly know Comey hasn’t broken the law, so their threats appear to be aimed at sabotaging his testimony and creating a “chilling effect” on others with damaging information about the Russia investigation.

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“This is a chilling effect on people not to talk about conversations they had with the president that are not classified as a matter of law,” Kohn said. “That is illegal —
that is unconstitutional.”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Wisconsin political professor shatters the biggest misconception about Trump’s base with a revealing poll

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One of the most enduring ideas the general public, and especially Democrats, have about President Donald Trump's supporters is that they are bound by an unflappable, cult-like devotion to the president that transcends any sort of logic, reason, or reservations.

But in a lengthy thread on Twitter Tuesday, former University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and Marquette Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin revealed polling data that show this isn't quite true. There are plenty of solid Trump partisans — but voters supporting Trump are, on average, less attached to him than voters opposing Trump are repelled by him:

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Trump told NRA’s Wayne LaPierre he’s not ‘waffling’ anymore — background checks are off the table

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President Donald Trump made a congratulatory phone call to National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre to let the far-right organization know that the White House was reversing itself and would not be supporting universal background checks for firearms sales.

Following shooting massacres in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Trump had argued the time was now for background checks.

"Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks," Trump argued. "Perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!"

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Three more major NRA leaders are out — as gun group continues downward spiral

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Tuesday, three more members of the National Rifle Association have stepped down making it a total of seven NRA board members to leave in the last several months, CNN reported.

The first three were board members who complained about the money NRA chief Wayne LaPierre used to pay for a Beverly Hills wardrobe. Their responsibilities were cut and they left shortly after.

Professional sports shooter Julie Golob left the board just one week ago before her three-year term was up.

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