In his attempt to shut down the Russia probe, Trump may have actually strengthened the obstruction case against him.
Trump's decision to force the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and install loyalist Matthew Whitaker as his replacement appears to be a violation of federal law, according to a former top FBI official.
"I think we're watching obstruction of justice play out right in plain sight," former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi told host Nicole Wallace on MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," discussing the forced resignation of Sessions.
"I fear there's a quid quo pro," he said. "I name you acting attorney general, or I nominate you for attorney general; you take care of the special counsel investigation."
"That's public corruption," he added.
Figliuzzi has good reason to worry about a quid quo pro. By forcing Sessions' resignation, Trump put himself in a position to influence Mueller's investigation through his choice of an acting attorney general.
Typically, the deputy attorney general would fill that position — but Trump bypassed Rod Rosenstein and tapped Whitaker for the spot instead. Now Whitaker will not only lead the DOJ, but will also take over Rosenstein's job overseeing the Russia probe.
With Whitaker as acting attorney general, Trump has someone leading Mueller's investigation who has already made it clear that he doesn't think the investigation is being carried out appropriately.
Among other things, Whitaker has said he believes Mueller crossed a red line when he started looking at Trump's financial history and business dealings. He has also advocated for defunding the probe or placing severe limits on Mueller's authority to stop him from conducting a thorough investigation.
At one point, Whitaker even said the probe could turn into a "witch hunt," using Trump's favorite phrase to describe the investigation that has already resulted in indictments and/or guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies, including four former Trump campaign advisers.
Mueller was already reportedly looking at Trump's efforts to persuade Sessions to un-recuse himself from the Russia probe as part of his investigation into obstruction of justice.
Now, in his attempt to shut down the Russia probe, Trump may have actually helped make the case against him even stronger by handing Mueller brand new evidence of obstruction.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.