The fallout of the controversial Devin Nunes memo has legal experts wondering to what extent is the Californian representative in danger of being prosecuted by the law. An OpEd in the New York Times wonders if Nunes could be eventually found guilty of obstruction of justice.
Nunes, with the approval of President Trump, released a memo that claimed to show the ways in which the F.B.I.'s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election is a partisan effort to discredit the Trump administration. The memo was interpreted by Republicans as evidence of bias within the itelligence community and by Democrats as a strategic ploy to undermine faith in Rober Mueller's ongoing inquiry.
Now, Times writers Norman L. Eisen, Caroline Fredrickson and Laurence H. Tribe wonder to what extent Nunes' actions are punishable by law.
The extent to which Nunes coordinated the effort to discredit the F.B.I. with his staff remains a point of contention, with Nunes giving varying answers on the matter. This makes it difficult to decide how much culpability Nunes could have if charges are brought against him.
A possible scenario that could play out: The Nunes memo may be used as a justification for the firing of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, with the intention of eventually replacing Mueller with someone more Trump-friendly, who might stop the investigation entirely. Whether this would trigger legal action against Trump and Nunes is another question. If it did, "Endeavoring to stop an investigation, if done with corrupt intent, may constitute obstruction of justice. Plotting to assist such action may be conspiracy to obstruct justice," say the Times writers.
Although Nunes could attempt to argue that the creation of his memo was in effect a “speech or debate," thus protected by the constitution, the “political" nature of Nunes' activities would make such a defense difficult.
Trump is currently under investigation for obstruction pertaining to the firing of James Comey.
"What did Mr. Nunes’s office do, and when did they do it?" is the question the Times writers conclude with. Without answers to those questions, it is impossible to determine Nunes' guilt or innocence.
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