WATCH: GOP Rep. Says It’s Not A Crime To Ask Someone To Assault Someone
Appearing on “Cuomo Prime Time” with CNN host Chris Cuomo, two Republican representatives, longtime defenders of President Donald Trump, disputed the notion that requests made by the chief executive to interfere in the Russia investigation amounted to a criminal act.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) got into a disagreement with Cuomo over Trump’s repeated orders and insinuations to his White House staff, to curtail or restrict the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Cuomo cited an instance, detailed in a redacted version of Mueller’s report released Thursday, in which the president told then-White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn refused to do so, suggesting he’d rather quit than fire the special counsel.
Trump relented and didn’t make the order to terminate Mueller from the inquiry. The fact that he didn’t follow through, however, and that Republicans didn’t think it was a big deal, upset Cuomo on his Thursday evening broadcast.
“When the president goes to Don McGahn and says, you need to do this to stop this, and the guy has to threaten to resign or leave for it not to happen, and you ignore it, I think that matters, too,” Cuomo said to Jordan and Meadows.
“He didn’t do it, he didn’t fire Mueller…they didn’t do it,” Jordan responded.
“But asking matters, Jim,” Cuomo retorted. “If I ask you to punch Mr. Meadows and you don’t do it, the request was still wrong.”
.@ChrisCuomo: It matters that Trump asked WH lawyer to fire Mueller!
JIM JORDAN: But he didn't do it
CUOMO: If I ask you to punch Meadows & you don't, the request is still wrong
MEADOWS: But it's not a crime unless he assaults me!
C: So that's the standard? Not being a felon? pic.twitter.com/Bhn7hPQy7a
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 19, 2019
Meadows responded by suggesting that didn’t matter. “The request may have been wrong, but it’s not a crime unless he assaults me,” he said.
Cuomo was flabbergasted. “Is that our standard? Is that why you got into public service, was to prove you’re not a felon?”
Beyond the issue of lowering our standards for presidential misconduct, Meadows is wrong — it is indeed a crime to solicit someone else to carry out a physical act of assault. It’s even a federal crime, according to 18 US Code Section 373.
Attempts to obstruct justice may similarly be considered a crime in some circumstances. The Department of Justice website, for instance, explains in an example that obstructing justice by means of trying to influence a juror in a court case doesn’t have to be a successful action in order for it to be a criminal act.