Potential obstruction of justice case against Donald Trump just took 'quantum leap', lawyer says

'Trump's loyalty demands and his alleged request that Comey lay off his former national security adviser have caused many to suspect an improper and possibly criminal motivation', writes Paul Callan

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The Independent US

A potential obstruction of justice case against Donald Trump just received  a “quantum leap in strength and legal sustainability”according to a well known legal analyst and former New York homicide prosecutor. 

Paul Callan said that the US leader alleged comments to Russian officials that the “pressure” was off as a result of firing FBI Director James Comeywho he referred to as a “nut job”, meant that legal action against the US leader was coming ever closer. 

The statement can be perceived as “deliberate interference with the progress of the Russia probe”, he wrote in an analyis for CNN.

He added that it was "shocking" that Mr Trump had invited two of the targets of an ongoing FBI counter intelligence investigation Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and the country's Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak into the Oval Office, the day after firing Mr Comey. 

Mr Comey had been investigating whether there was collusion between Russia and anyone connected to Mr Trump's campaign during last year's presidential election.

Citing a report in The New York Times which reported his comments on Mr Comey, Mr Callan said they could be viewed as showing "the President's true intent"  which was "deliberate interference with the progress of the Russia probe."

Robert Mueller, the newly appointed Department of Justice special counsel has now been tasked with picking up the pieces of Mr Comey's investigation. 

According to Politifact, the US President can be tried under Title 18, Section 1505, which requires a prosecutor to prove that through threat or force, Mr Trump obstructed, influenced, impeded or attempted to impede a proceeding through a “corrupt” mental state.

Mr Trump initially claimed that he had fired Mr Comey over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though the president was widely seen to have benefited politically from that inquiry. He had once praised Mr Comey for his “guts” in his pursuit of Mrs. Clinton during the campaign.

But he later admitted that "this Russia thing" had also played a role in the sacking.   

Mr Comey has agreed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee in an “open session” to answer questions on the investigation into links between the Trump team and Russia, a move that will likely alarm the White House, which has been struggling to contain the fallout from the sacking of one of America's highest profile officials. 

Chairman of the committee, Senator Richard Burr, said he hoped the former FBI chief's testimony would "clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media".

“The committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former director on his role in the development of the intelligence community assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections," he said.

The hearing will be scheduled after the 29 May Memorial Day holiday, the committee's statement said.