- Nov 2009
Obstruction of justice - Wikipedia
Generally, obstruction charges are laid when it is discovered that a person questioned in an investigation, other than a suspect, has lied to the investigating officers. However, in most common law jurisdictions, the right to remain silent can be used to allow any person questioned by police merely to deny answering questions posed by an investigator without giving any reason for doing so. (In such a case, the investigators may subpoena the witness to give testimony under oath in court, though the witness may then exercise their rights, for example in the Fifth Amendment, if they believe their answer may serve to incriminate themselves.) If the person willfully and knowingly tried to protect a suspect (such as by providing a false alibi) or to hide from investigation of their own activities (such as to hide their involvement in another crime), this may leave them liable to prosecution. Obstruction charges can also be laid if a person alters, destroys, or conceals physical evidence. Obstruction charges may also be laid in unique situations such as refusal to aid a police officer, escape through voluntary action of an officer and refusing to assist prison officers in arresting escaped convicts.
Obstruction can include crimes committed by judges, prosecutors, attorneys general, and elected officials in general. It is misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in the conduct of the office. Most commonly it is prosecuted as a crime for perjury by a non governmental official primarily because of prosecutorial discretion.
Trump supporters acknowledge that Trump lies regularly. In Mueller's report, it details lies, as well as Trump's efforts against Mueller and others, including firing and replacing DOJ types with more friendly ones. Since ALL of that is not obstruction now, should that law be repealed? It's a real question. There is no point in a law that Republicans or Democrats get to selectively apply against the other team. And there is no point in a law that effects every day people, but wealthy or connected people, with stronger attorneys will never be subject to. The law should be the same for all of us.Notable examples
- Bill Clinton was impeached by the United States House of Representatives in 1998 for obstruction of justice charges based on allegations Clinton lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in a sworn deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit. This made Clinton only the second U.S. president to be impeached after Andrew Johnson. He was later acquitted by the Senate.
- Richard Nixon was being investigated for obstruction of justice for his alleged role in the cover-up of the break-in at the Watergate hotel during his re-election campaign in 1972. Although it is unknown whether Nixon had foreknowledge of his re-election committee's "dirty tricks" campaign against Democratic presidential candidates that led to the break-in, he was aware of it after the fact and paid money to keep the participants quiet.
- Former Vice-Presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice in March 2007 for his role in the investigation of a leak to reporters by Richard Armitage of the identity of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame. His prison sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush in July 2007, so that Libby was no longer required to serve a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence, but was still required to pay a $250,000 fine, be recorded as a convicted felon, obey probation terms, and be disbarred. Donald Trump pardoned Libby on April 13, 2018.
- Conrad Black was convicted of obstruction of justice in July 2007 for removing 13 boxes containing financial records from his office in Toronto after they had been sealed by a court order, returning the boxes a few days later.
- Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice on April 13, 2011 for his testimony in front of the grand jury during the BALCO steroid scandal. The conviction was later overturned by an appellate court.
- In United States v. Binion, malingering (feigning illness) during a competency evaluation was held to be obstruction of justice and led to an enhanced sentence.