By Lynda Bryant Work
Witness tampering is the act of attempting to alter or prevent the testimony of witnesses within criminal or civil proceedings. Laws regarding witness tampering also apply to proceedings before the U.S. Congress, executive departments, and administrative agencies.
To be charged with witness tampering in the United States, the attempt to ALTER or PREVENT testimony is sufficient. There is no requirement that the intended obstruction of justice be completed.
In situations where intimidation or retaliation against witnesses is likely (such as cases involving organized crime), witnesses may be placed in witness protection to prevent suspects or their colleagues from intimidating or harming them.
In the United States, the crime of witness tampering in federal cases is defined by statute at 18 U.S.C. § 1512, which defines it as “tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant.”
President Trump has gone so far as to say the whistleblower is committing “treason,” as well as Democrats pursuing an impeachment inquiry, but he obviously has no idea what the definition is as applied to the Constitution.
The Constitution states, “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Note the word “only.”
Treason occurs when a U.S. citizen, or a non-citizen on U.S. territory, wages war against the country or provides material support — not just sympathy — to a declared enemy of the United States.
Lest people forget history, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for giving atomic secrets to Russia during the Cold War, were charged with espionage, not treason.
The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8)-(9), Pub.L. 101-12 as amended, is a United States federal law that protects federal whistleblowers who work for the government and report the possible existence of an activity constituting a violation of law, rules, or regulations, or mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.
A federal agency violates the Whistleblower Protection Act if agency authorities take (or threaten to take) retaliatory personnel action against any employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by that employee or applicant.
Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and Presidential Policy Directive 19, entitled “Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information,” signed on Oct. 10, 2012, ensures employees (1) serving in the Intelligence Community or (2) who are eligible for access to classified information can effectively report waste, fraud, and abuse while protecting classified national security information prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting waste, fraud, and abuse.
Whistleblowers must be protected and they do have laws on their side.
What we have seen the past three years of repeated intimidation by a rogue and lawless administration. The threats to and harassment of witnesses is out of hand.
It is time Congress stopped this dead in its tracks.
The thing to remember through all the yelling, tweeting, accusing and harassment is that the innocent do not have to do these things.
No – whistleblowers are not committing treason and they are not unpatriotic. But obstructing an investigation is a major problem, which has been repeatedly attempted by the Trump administration.
And as to the civil war remarks retweeted out by President Trump as a threat – there is this: 18 USC 2383 – “Whoever incites… any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States… shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
The president’s tweet met with immediate backlash, and Harvard Law professor John Coates argued that the social media post itself is an “independent basis” for lawmakers to remove him from the White House.
“This tweet is itself an independent basis for impeachment – a sitting president threatening civil war if Congress exercises its constitutionally authorized power.”
But Trump keeps escalating his attacks – making demands and threats. He sounds more like a mob boss than a president – and yes, it means something. The innocent don’t act like this.
There is no excuse for it. Pointing fingers at the Democrats is shallow – two wrongs don’t make right.
As reporter Joe Lockhart (CNN) stated:
“These ridiculous threats may seem silly taken out of context. But taken in the context of the last three years, we all should be frightened for our future and protective of our democracy.
History is littered with despots who started with words and petty threats. We know how many of those stories ended. This transcends party politics, and it is long past time Republicans send a message to their leader that this behavior is un-American and beneath anyone, Democrat or Republican, entrusted with the authority of President of the United States.”
As a Constitutionalist, I say look to the Constitution for the answers. Stop the partisan sniping and start worrying about saving the country – not a political party.