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Volume 2
Chapter Chapter III
Page Number 168
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U.S. Department of Justice

Finally, 18 U.S.C. § l 512(b)(3) criminalizes tampering with witnesses to prevent the communication of information about a crime to law enforcement. The nexus inquiry articulated in Aguilar-that an individual has "knowledge that his actions are likely to affect the judicial proceeding," 515 U.S. at 599- does not apply to Section 1512(6)(3). See United States v. Byrne, 435 F .3d I 6, 24-25 (1st Cir. 2006). The nexus inquiry turns instead on the actor's intent to prevent communications to a federal law enforcement official. See Fowler v. United States, 563 U.S. 668, 673-678 (2011 ).

In sum, in light of the breadth of Section 1512( c )(2) and the other obstruction statutes, an argument that the conduct at issue in th is investigation falls outside the scope of the obstruction laws lacks merit.


Constitutional Defenses to Applying Obstruction-Of-Justice Statutes to Presidential Conduct

The President has broad discretion to direct criminal investigations. The Constitution vests the "executive Power" in the President and enjoins him to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." U.S. CONST. ART IT, §§ 1, 3. Those powers and duties form the foundation of prosecutorial discretion. See United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456, 464 (1996) (Attorney General and United States Attorneys "have this latitude because they are designated by statute as the President's delegates to help him discharge his constitutional responsibility to ' take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."'). The President also has authority to appoint officers of the United States and to remove those whom he has appointed. U .S. CONST. ART II,§ 2, cl. 2 (granting authority to the President to appoint all officers with the advice and consent of the Senate, but providing that Congress may vest the appointment of inferior officers in the President alone, the heads of departments, or the courts of law); see also Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, 561 U.S. 477, 492-493, 509 (2010) (describing removal authority as flowing from the President's "responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed").

Although the President has broad authority under Article II, that authority coexists with Congress's Article I power to enact laws that protect congressional proceedings, federal investigations, the courts, and grand juries against corrupt efforts to undermine their functions. Usually, those constitutional powers function in harmony, with the President enforcing the criminal laws under Article IT to protect against corrupt obstructive acts. But when the President' s official actions come into conflict with the prohibitions in the obstruction statutes, any constitutional tension is reconciled through separation-of-powers analysis.

Whoever corruptly ... influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress.


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