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Watergate prosecutor says she could bring an obstruction case against Trump

This week marked a "tipping point," says Jill Wine-Banks.
Trump Obstruction of Justice
Photo: Getty Images

Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said on Thursday that there is enough evidence to bring an obstruction of justice case against President Trump.

On the heels of the New York Times report that Trump instructed the White House's top lawyer to prevent Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself in the Russia investigation so he could protect Trump, Banks said there is now "so much evidence" and the day's news might constitute a "tipping point."

“When I was asked in May whether I thought I could make an obstruction case, I said I thought I could,” Banks told MSNBC's Joy Reid. “I know I can now.”

The Times also reported on Thursday night that special counsel Robert Mueller had corroborated former FBI director James Comey's statements about his firing by Trump. They suggest the president wanted to obstruct the FBI's investigation into foreign-policy adviser Mike Flynn's dealings with Russia. Additionally, Sessions had asked a congressional aide for damaging information about Comey, the Times said.

“There is so much evidence now, and as was said, it’s not one piece, it’s the total picture. The pieces of the puzzle are fitting together and they spell obstruction,” said Banks.

Wine-Banks said that even if Trump had no improper dealings with Russia, he could still face charges if he intended to obstruct the FBI's inquiry. She compared it to Watergate: President Richard Nixon wasn't involved in the initial burglary, but he was forced to resign after attempting to obstruct the investigation of it.

“You don’t need an underlying crime for the crime of obstruction,” she said. “To impede an investigation, whether you were part of the original crime or not, you have committed a separate crime: Obstruction of justice.”

Wine-Banks also said that Sessions and Trump's daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, could face obstruction of justice charges as well.

She had previously warned that other Republican leaders' attacks on the integrity of FBI agents could open them up to charges. "It is also a possible obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, and it's obstructing justice by saying to agents, 'You better not dig too deep, you better not find anything because I will attack you,'" she said last month.

"And this is the president of the United States, it is congressmen who have a national audience and can make people's lives miserable," she said.