Corrupt and Unlawful Conduct

  1. The U.S. Constitution explicitly includes bribery as a reason to impeach a president: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The statute governing bribery by public officials, repeatedly states that bribery can occur “directly or indirectly.” A Federal anti-bribery statute imposes criminal sanctions on a public official who “corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act.
  2. TheHobbs Act, is a federal anti-extorsion law, that prohibits actions that “in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article in commerce, by robbery or extortion.” The word “extorsion” is defined as “obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.  “Color of official right” refers to public officials who use their office to pressure another person. The Supreme Court has explained that to show that a criminal defendant acted under color of official right, “the Government needs only to show that a public official has obtained a payment to which he was not entitled, knowing that the payment was made in return for official acts. 
  3. Use or abuse his position as a public servant by engaging in conduct within or related to his official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely.

Campaign Finance Violation

Federal law and regulations, makes it illegal to “solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation” from a foreign national. For purposes of this statute, a “contribution or donation” is defined as “money” or another “thing of value” including opposition research. Any information obtained from a foreign national must be worth at least $ 2,000 to make a violation of the campaign finance statute a crime, and at least $25,000 to make it a felony. The Federal Election Commission has recognized the broad scope of the prohibition and found that even where the value of a good or service may be “nominal or difficult to ascertain,” this sort of contribution is illegal.

Honest Services Fraud

Federal law, prohibits fraud offenses that include a “scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.” This crime has parallels to bribery and extortion. The fraudulent denial of honest services occurs when a public official performs an “official act” in exchange for personal gain and, in the process, defrauds their constituents of honest services to make decisions and take actions that are in the public’s best interests. In public corruption cases, including honest services fraud—it is rare that the parties speak openly about the illegal transaction; it is much more common for them to speak in vague terms and communicate veiled threats.

Misappropriation of Funds

Federal law prohibits any individual from using government funds or property for their own use.

Witness Tampering 

  1. Federal law, prohibits any individual from knowingly using intimidation, threats, or corrupt means to induce another person to withhold or destroy information or evade a legal process.
  2. Federal law provides protections for whistleblowers reporting instances of wrongdoing within the U.S. government. The Whistleblower Act of 1989 provides general protections for federal employees and contractors, and the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1988 outlines a special process for those in the intelligence community to provide information to Congress and be protected from retaliation or threats of reprisals.

Coercion of Political Activity

Federal law, prohibits any individual from forcing an employee of the federal government to engage in political activity, including by “working or refusing to work on behalf of any candidate.” Current officeholders, such as the president of the United States, are also considered candidates when acting to advance their reelection.

Obstruction of Justice

Obstruction of justice is a serious crime defined in federal statutes in various ways including as the corrupt interference with “the due and proper administration of the law” or the “due administration of justice.” The statutes governing federal obstruction of justice, identify more than 20 types of obstruction crimes, including obstruction of oversight investigations before any committee of Congress. Several federal laws make it a crime to tamper with documents related to a federal investigation. One statute, for example, imposes criminal liability on anyone who “knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence” a federal investigation.

Criminal Conspiracy 

When two or more people act together to commit any offense against the United States, federal law defines that action as conspiracy.

Add new comment