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Is Trump criminalising himself?

May 12,2019 - Last updated at May 12,2019

The controversial decision of US President Donald Trump to invoke executive privilege to block the release of the unredacted version of the Robert Mueller report on the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections leads to one inevitable conclusion: Trump has a lot of incriminating evidence to hide, and that the full Mueller report contains damning and condemning information against him and the role of Russian President Vladimir Putin in having him elected as the president of the US.

By so deciding, President Trump has in effect criminalised himself prematurely and needlessly before the full story is disclosed. Why else would Trump prevent the full release of the 440 pages report rather than risk its fallout?

The other dimension of the report dealing with Trump’s role in “obstructing justice” with regard to his other questionable behaviour, including his income tax returns and business activities, is also kept secret and sealed from scrutiny by the executive privilege order. Here, again, President Trump may have miscalculated and gambled on the “value” of the alleged damning information against him by giving it a premature credence than warranted upon closer scrutiny.

Executive privilege or no executive privilege, or even invoking the fifth amendment against self-incrimination, are tools available to people wanting to hide something illegal or criminal to obstruct justice. Sooner or later, however, the full content of the Mueller report will become public knowledge and there is no effective or lasting way to prevent that from happening.

President Trump’s interests would be better served by dealing head on with the concealed information and offering the necessary explanation, rather than hiding it completely, but temporarily, from the scrutiny of the American people. President Trump may have exaggerated the damage from the remaining pages of the report that are kept secret.

On balance, the damage from obstructing the remaining pages of the report outweighs any damage that may ensue from having them revealed voluntarily. Trump and his key advisers need to reconsider their hasty decision to seemingly obstructing justice, and reverse their stance before the damage gets compounded by the day.

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