Mueller explicitly says he can't clear Trump of obstruction of justice

Alex Wong/GettyMueller confirmed that the FBI uses drones for domestic surveillance during a hearing on FBI oversight in 2013.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller explicitly states in his Russia investigation report that he and his team could not clear President Donald Trump of accusations of obstruction of justice.
  • “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report read. “However, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
  • But Attorney General William Barr concluded that there is insufficient evidence to accuse the president of illegally obstructing justice.
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Special counsel Robert Mueller explicitly stated in his Russia investigation report that he and his team had not cleared President Donald Trump of accusations of obstruction of justice.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report read. “However, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”


Read more:
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The special counsel found that Trump was mostly unsuccessful in influencing the investigation – but only because key aides and advisers stopped him or refused to carry out his orders.

Mueller’s team declined to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” about whether Trump obstructed justice, citing current DOJ guidelines that say a sitting president cannot be indicted. Apart from that, they also said a criminal accusation against a sitting president could impede his ability to govern, and that they did not want to get ahead of “constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.”

Ultimately, Mueller’s team found that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

By contrast, Attorney General William Barr – and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – concluded that there is insufficient evidence to accuse the president of illegally obstructing justice.

However, that doesn’t mean that Trump is out of hot water. Some legal experts interpreted another line in the report as a suggestion that Congress should move forward with investigating and impeaching the president over his attempts to influence the Russia investigation.

The line in the report reads, “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”

INSIDER reviewed the Mueller report and found that it includes 11 instances of potential obstruction, outlined below:

  • “The Campaign’s response to reports about Russian support for Trump.”
  • “Conduct involving FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn.”
  • “The President’s reaction to the continuing Russia investigation.”
  • “The President’s termination of Comey.”
  • “The appointment of a Special Counsel and efforts to remove him.”
  • “Efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation.”
  • “Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence.”
  • “Further efforts to have the Attorney General take control of the investigation.”
  • “Efforts to have McGahn deny that the President had ordered him to have the Special Counsel removed.”
  • “Conduct towards Flynn, Manafort, [REDACTED].”
  • “Conduct involving Michael Cohen.”

Sonam Sheth and Grace Panetta contributed to this report.

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