Eric Swalwell: President Trump and His Gang Are No Different Than the Street Gangs I've Prosecuted | Opinion

I prosecuted gang cases on some of the roughest streets in America, and I quickly learned that some of my best evidence came from what the gangster did after the crime.

I'd listen to jail calls in which witnesses were told to not snitch. I saw the defendant try to get to get witnesses' addresses, hoping to intimidate or take out prime evidence. I saw one particular homicide defendant go to great lengths to manufacture an alibi, doctoring surveillance videos and work time cards to cover up his involvement in the crime.

The jury always relied heavily upon such evidence when considering guilt. Why? Because innocent people don't intimidate witnesses or manufacture alibis. People with nothing to hide need not go to such illegal lengths to prove their innocence.

President Donald Trump and his gang are no different than street gangs I've prosecuted. We should treat his after-the-crime conduct the same way.

The fact is, the President already has confessed to an impeachable crime. President Trump used your hard-earned taxpayer dollars to exhort a foreign leader to pursue an already-debunked investigation in order to help secure his own re-election.

Specifically: He withheld hundreds of millions in U.S. military aid from Ukraine, a nation whose very existence depends on foreign aid to protect it from Russian aggression. President Trump then told the Ukrainian president he wanted a favor: help in exonerating Russia of the now-unquestionable interference in our 2016 presidential election, and an investigation of the son of one of Trump's top political rivals. He deliberately involved both his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has absolutely no U.S. government authority, and America's lawyer, Attorney General William Barr.

He did this the day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress about Russia's interference in our election, and the President's repeated obstruction of Mueller's investigation. He did it when he felt emboldened to act as if he's above the law.

Now – as we do our due diligence to corroborate the evidence the President already has provided, to uncover any more related wrongdoing, and to give the Administration a chance to explain itself – we find ourselves in the midst of what appears to be an active, ongoing cover-up as the Trump Administration refuses to cooperate with Congress' constitutionally mandated investigation.

The White House removed a memo detailing the Trump-Ukraine call from the database in which such things are stored, moving it instead to a highly classified system that's meant only for the biggest national security secrets.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, acting at the behest of the White House, waited three weeks beyond when he was required to share a whisteblower's complaint with Congress, acquiescing only on the eve of his testimony.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo helped pursue bizarre conspiracy theories about Ukraine, affected ignorance about the Trump-Ukraine call before acknowledging he had listened in on it, and now is trying to prevent witnesses from testifying freely to Congress.

And the President himself is actively intimidating the whistleblower and those who provided information to the whistleblower, tweeting and ranting about treason and spies and alluding to the death penalty. He even suggested that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who is leading our investigation, should be arrested for treason. This kind of thuggishness is straight out of the playbook of the mob figures he used to pal around with.

The sad truth is that the whistleblower, those who spoke to him or her, and we who are undertaking the investigation in Congress have followed the law at every step—it's the President and his enablers who have acted lawlessly.

So don't discount Trump's post-confession behavior as just some more "Trump being Trump." He's now he's acting exactly as a guilty person would, trying to cover up and divert attention from his crimes.

Trump is wagering that you won't care. You won't care that he threatened another country with your tax dollars. You won't care that he's covering it up. And that you won't care that he's going gangster to intimidate witnesses and threaten investigators.

In 2016, candidate Donald Trump boasted, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." In the coming weeks, we will find out whether he's right about who he thinks we are as Americans.

I'm willing to bet everything that he's wrong.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., serves on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees and co-chairs the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Follow him on Twitter at @RepSwalwell.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​

Eric Swalwell: President Trump and His Gang Are No Different Than the Street Gangs I've Prosecuted | Opinion | Opinion
{{label}}
{{title}}
EDITOR'S PICK