Most white-collar prosecutions turn on the issue of criminal intent. These cases involve behavior that would, in ordinary circumstances, be totally legal—if not for the intent of the defendant.
.. It’s only criminal to sell stock if you had improper knowledge of the status of the company.
.. The President clearly had the right to fire Comey, but he did not have the right to do so with improper intent.
.. McGahn’s threat to resign shows that he saw these purported reasons as pretexts.
- .. The golf-dues matter was obviously trivial
- .. the law firm’s representation of Kushner, which did not involve Mueller at all, could only have biased the special counsel in favor of the President’s family
- .. and Trump’s willingness to interview Mueller for the F.B.I. position showed how much the President trusted Mueller, not that he believed the former F.B.I. director harbored any animosity toward him.
.. McGahn recognized the key fact—that Trump wanted to fire Mueller for the wrong reasons. Trump wanted to fire Mueller because his investigation was threatening to him.
.. Trump and his advisers have offered various tortured rationalizations for the firing of Comey—initially, for example, on the ground that Comey had been unfair to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. Trump himself came clean in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt and in a meeting with Russia’s foreign minister.
In both, Trump acknowledged that he fired Comey to stall or stop the Russia investigation—that is, the investigation of Trump himself and his campaign.