Law school clinic asks U.N. to protect courts from Trump Administration

August 1, 2019

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The International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) of Seattle University School of Law has urged the United Nations to protect various investigations from interference by the Trump Administration, presenting an urgent complaint to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

Thomas Antkowiak
Thomas Antkowiak

"The Trump Administration has threatened our long tradition of democracy and evaded accountability," said Professor Thomas Antkowiak, who directs the clinic. "U.N. human rights authorities can help us uphold the rule of law in the United States."

International law establishes that tribunals, lawyers, prosecutors, and investigators must have independence. But from 2016 until the present, President Donald Trump's administration has interfered with this independence constantly, Antkowiak said. The clinic's 25-page complaint to the U.N. cites multiple examples of when the Trump Administration sought to impede or stop critical investigations led by the Special Counsel, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others.

Last week, Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave testimony before U.S. Congress confirming the details of his two-year investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller clarified that his report did not exonerate President Trump from the crime of obstruction of justice. In fact, over 1,000 former federal prosecutors — of both Democratic and Republican parties — have signed a public statement declaring that Trump's conduct would "result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice" were it not for government policy against indicting a sitting President.

After reviewing several instances of interference in its complaint, the IHRC urges that the United Nations undertake, as a matter of urgency, the following measures:

1) A condemnation of the Trump Administration's well-substantiated interference with U.S. tribunals, lawyers, prosecutors, and investigators.

2) A demand that the United States ensure that all current and future criminal, civil, and administrative investigations into President Trump's actions — including any impeachment proceedings — be completed under international standards of due process, independence, and transparency, and without any interference from the Trump Administration.

3) To monitor closely any such investigations and proceedings, to request all relevant information from the U.S. government, and to place a spotlight on this situation by issuing reports and prompt public statements.

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