The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says the panel is starting to see ‘the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice’ against the president
A Senate investigation into connections between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 U. S. election suggests a potential case of obstruction of justice is developing against the president, Senator Dianne Feinstein said.
“What we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice,” Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” 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’s 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 was referring to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, who face charges including money laundering uncovered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation; former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos; and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The latter two pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
The California senator said the most important instance was Trump’s firing of former 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.
Feinstein, 84, 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 on 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 U. S. 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 on 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.”
In a separate “Meet the Press” interview, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said Mueller’s investigation was “making progress.”
Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she didn’t know whether collusion had taken place 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 President Barack Obama, so those conversations “should not have been taking place, but that does not confirm collusion,” Collins said.
Senator Angus King of Maine said Sunday that the Senate Intelligence Committee is focused more on Russia’s actions during 2016 than on Trump and his associates and is not looking into obstruction of justice.
“The hot political issue of Trump and the Russians and the campaign is obscuring the larger issue, which is: the Russians attacked our democracy, and they’re going to do it again,” King, an independent who typically caucuses with Democrats, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
In November, officials from Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter Inc. faced hours of questioning from members of Congress — including the Senate Intelligence Committee — about how their platforms were used by Russian operatives to manipulate voters in 2016.