A few minutes ago, Trump tweeted: “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
First, is he trying to appear as Nixonian as possible? Or is he so ignorant of all history that he has no idea how damaging this reference is politically? Either way, it is the panicked behavior of someone who lied about what was said, and is trying desperately to intimidate or create doubt.
Second, it’s also possible that he wants to deflect attention from his confession of obstruction of justice last night on NBC, which I lay out here. That’s the clearest case of a felony, but I’m watching the media today miss that headline because I think they don’t see the significance of Trump’s admission legally.
Maybe at this stage, politics is more influential than law, but let’s talk about the law. Trump was explicitly addressing media leaks, but we all know that Comey is scheduled to be a witness next week in the Senate (and certainly again thereafter). Hat-tip to Jennifer Taub, the statutes on witness intimidation are written broadly and enforced broadly. Here is the relevant text of federal criminal statute 18 U.S. Code Section 1512, with relevant passages in bold:
(b)Whoever knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to—
(1) influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding;(2)cause or induce any person to—