For those of you, like me, who were working or otherwise engaged yesterday and missed the Mueller Report Hearing, here is a clip of smart-as-a-whip Joyce Vance’s testimony.
Nothing new here, but her presentation is sharp and compelling.
C-SPAN has @JoyceWhiteVance's complete opening statement: "If anyone other than a president of the United States committed this conduct he would be under incitement today for multiple acts of Obstruction of Justice." pic.twitter.com/eZUIyl69t0
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 10, 2019
And this from her written statement:
“Because of the serious nature of obstruction of justice, Congress has also decided to criminalize not just the completed act of obstruction, but also attempts, or what is called inchoate (or incomplete) crimes of obstruction. In other words, one need not succeed in obstructing justice to be guilty of the crime. We are worried about people who try to interfere with the workings of the criminal justice system and their guilt is judged by their acts and intentions, not by whether they actually succeed.
As Special Counsel Mueller explained at his press conference:
“The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”
Finally, some people, including the President’s lawyers and our current Attorney General, take an expansive view of the powers of the presidency and suggest that a president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice when exercising the powers of his office. Even the President’s lawyers concede he could be charged with obstruction of justice by bribing a witness or suborning perjury,Report, Vol. II, pg 8, because the Constitution gives him neither the power to bribe or encourage people to commit perjury. But they believe actions he takes, using his executive power, can never subject him to criminal prosecution. They believe that because he is entitled, for instance, to remove executive branch officials, even law enforcement officers who are investigating him,without regard to his motivation. This is a strained interpretation of the law, the result of which is to say that a president can use that power for corrupt purposes, such as to impede an investigation into his own potential wrongdoing. The principle that no one is above the law, not even a president,is the animating principle in our constitutional structure. Illinois’ former Governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted of federal crimes for performing an act within his official powers,appointing a new Senator to an empty seat. But he was convicted because he did that otherwise lawful act in exchange for a bribe. Similarly, the Report concludes corrupt use of authority by a president can be charged under the obstruction statutes “in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.”
Mueller resolves any tension between the President’s Article II powers and Congress’s authority to regulate the President’s exercise of official duties to prohibit actions motivated by a corrupt intent to obstruct justice by relying, in part, on the Constitution’s Take Care Clause. The Take Care Clause, in Article II, Section 3, requires the President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The constitutionally prescribed Oath contains a similar command to “faithfully execute” the office (i.e., the powers assigned) and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” It was no accident that the Framers included this requirement in the Constitution twice—for representative government only works if those in office act in good faith and in the public interest, not corruptly for his own self-interest.
The task before this Committee and before the Congress is not an easy one. Co-equal branches of government must operate with deference and respect for the powers our Constitution grants to each branch. But the Framers established co-equal branches not to grease the wheels of corruption but to ensure that each branch serves as a powerful check on the others. And the Congress—constitutionally, the first branch among equals—has a duty to investigate, expose, and hold accountable anyone who abuses the power of the presidency. This hearing is a first step in fulfilling that duty, and I am both honored and sobered to contribute to this essential work.”
Much as I admire her, let me just say I would not want her to prosecute me if I were guilty.
Any way Nadler can get her on the team?
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