"Pressure" is not obstruction of justice

More important, let’s assume that a question about whether he’d ever gotten a shut-down order from DOJ obliged Comey to include in his response any shut-down order he’d ever received from a president. (This assumption runs counter to perjury law, but let’s pretend.) The bottom line would still be that an order simply is not the same thing as pressure. Asserting that you have never been ordered to do something does not imply a representation that you have never been pressured to do that something.

No one in America knows the law of obstruction better than Comey, who has spent much of the last 30 years as a high-ranking federal prosecutor and the federal government’s top cop. He is well aware that pressure is not obstruction. In this instance, moreover, Trump’s exertion of pressure was relatively mild: He did not deny Comey the freedom to exercise his own judgment; the president expressed hope that Comey’s judgment would be exercised in Flynn’s favor. Any of us who has ever had an overbearing boss is familiar with this kind of prodding. It can be unpleasant, even anxiety-inducing. But Comey is a big boy, he has a history of not being intimidated by presidents, and what we’re talking about here is not exactly the rack.

This is no doubt why Comey did not resign, and did not report to the Justice Department, his FBI staff, or Congress, that he had witnessed – indeed, been the victim in a sense – of an obstruction of an FBI investigation.

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