"But now, I've come to the conclusion that the "dynamite behind the door" was in plain sight. It was trump himself. The oversized personality." - Bob Woodward in his book, Rage
I beg your pardon. This inquiry is directed to me regarding the legality and underlying intent of Donald Trump's wave of 41 Presidential Pardons to people adjudicated guilty of egregious crimes. In addition, Trump skirted the formal Justice Department process for pardons. The bigger question is Donald Trump guilty of obstruction of justice? I have to provide a lawyer-like answer - maybe or maybe not. Obstruction of justice is any willfull interference with the orderly administration of law and justice.
Obstruction of Justice
Obstruction of justice is a possibility if Trump premised the pardons with the intent and understanding with the recipients not to testify against him for alleged criminal conduct. Ironically, Attorney Michael Cohen has not received a pardon. Did Michael Cohen, a convicted felon act on his own or at the direction and for the benefit of Donald Trump?
It appears that the predicate acts of Michael Cohen and others performed in agreement constitutes a conspiracy. If so, we may have a criminal and civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case. The civil racketeering provisions of RICO involve three main sections of the statute: section 1961 provides the definitions, section 1962 describes the prohibited conduct and section 1964 (c) which creates the civil RICO cause of action. To determine who may bring suit under RICO has been liberally construed to include not only people, partnerships, corporations but also domestic state governmental units. See County of Oakland v. City of Detroit, 866 F. 2d 839 (6th Cir. 1989).
A showing of injury for a civil RICO claim requires proximate cause and proof of a concrete financial loss to the plaintiff's business or property. Money is a form of property. See Reiter v Sonotone Corp., 442 U.S. 330, 332 (1979); Canyon County v Syngenta Seeds, Inc, 519 F. 3d 969, 976 (9th Cir.) cert. denied, 129 S. Ct. 458 (2008). Can Trump's conduct affecting millions of people, businesses and domestic governmental units satisfy a concrete financial loss and standing to sue.?
The answer to these questions can be gleaned from my article, Civil RICO: A Tool of Advocacy, New York State Bar Association Journal, Nov/Dec 2016, Pgs. 11-14 and my link to published articles www.ssrn.com/author=1653603
James A. Johnson