InsiderNJ Legal Analyst Joe Hayden’s Assessment of the Trump-Mueller ‘Tangled Web’ Week

Veteran defense attorney Joe Hayden says that given the limitations Special Counsel Robert Mueller put on his testimony and the logistical challenges of the questioning, the House Judiciary Committee hearings accomplished as much as was realistically possible to inform the public and confirm the high points of the Mueller Report.

1.  In the real world, President Donald J. Trump is now a target of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation of obstruction of justice and probably also for collusion. Despite what the Trump folks say, Mueller does not have to prove the underlying crime to make a case for obstruction of justice. For example, Nixon was not guilty of the Watergate break-in but was guilty of obstruction of justice about it which ultimately led to his resignation.

2.  As to whether Mueller can criminally charge Trump or only make findings and send his findings to Congress, this is a separate legal issue.

3.  Trump would be reckless if not self-destructive to agree to an intensive interview by Mueller and his team. Mueller will know the answer to every question asked and either Trump will admit to certain facts and incriminate himself or deny obvious facts and get caught up in a criminal lie.  The recent fiasco whereby Trump contradicts his lawyer Cohen, and then Trump’s new lawyer Giuliani contradicts him and makes him a liar, reminds me of a line from Shakespeare:  “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

4.  The most intriguing question is why did the Trump forces decide to leak the Mueller questions earlier this week in the first place? My guess is that they were providing cover for Trump to say that he has decided not to answer these loaded questions. Obviously, this strategy blew up.  I suspect their real fear is, is that they know that the truth of these financial transactions will come out either in Cohen’s financial records or from Cohen himself!  (But that is for another discussion.)

Veteran Defense Attorney Joe Hayden is InsiderNJ’s resident legal analyst.

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