- A new statement from hundreds of former federal prosecutors says the special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings show Donald Trump would have been charged with obstruction if he wasn’t currently president.
- “Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” the statement said.
- The statement, released on Monday, was signed by over 370 former federal prosecutors who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
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The special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings in the Russia investigation would have resulted in obstruction charges against President Donald Trump if he wasn’t currently in office, according to a statement signed by over 370 former federal prosecutors and published Monday.
“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” the former federal prosecutors, who said they served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, wrote.
“The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge,” the statement added. Correspondingly, the statement pointed to the president’s alleged efforts to have Mueller fired and “to falsify evidence about that effort,” to limit the scope of the probe, and to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators working on the probe.
The special counsel’s report on Russia election interference outlined 11 potential instances of obstruction by the president, but Mueller ultimately declined to offer a conclusion on whether Trump committed obstruction.
Mueller’s report laid out three main reasons why prosecutors didn’t indict Trump or suggest he should be charged:
- They adhered to the OLC’s 1973 decision that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
- They believed that if their report suggested Trump could face federal charges without actually bringing them, it would not be fair because there would be no trial, and he wouldn’t have an opportunity to clear himself.
- Mueller did not consider filing a sealed indictment against Trump out of fear that it would be leaked and significantly impede his ability to govern.
Mueller’s report also said Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice in the investigation failed largely because his staff and aides refused to follow his orders.
All of [Trump’s] conduct - trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others - is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions,” the former prosecutors wrote.
The former federal prosecutors said that to look at “the facts” outlined by Mueller and conclude and say that a prosecutor could not “probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice … runs counter to logic and our experience.”
Mueller in his report also said he did not find sufficient evidence to conclude Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia. And although he declined to make a judgment on whether Trump obstructed justice, Attorney General William Barr concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction.
House Democrats are now in a tug-of-war with the Justice Department to obtain a full, un-redacted version of the Mueller report and its underlying evidence. They argue they need all of Mueller’s findings so they can appropriately conduct oversight of the executive branch.
But the Justice Department is resisting turning over the documents, which prompted Democrats to launch formal proceedings on Monday to hold Barr in contempt of Congress.
“The Attorney General’s failure to comply with our subpoena, after extensive accommodation efforts, leaves us no choice but to initiate contempt proceedings in order to enforce the subpoena and access the full, unredacted report,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “If the Department presents us with a good faith offer for access to the full report and the underlying evidence, I reserve the right to postpone these proceedings.”
Lawmakers are also in talks with the special counsel to set a date for him to testify before Congress about his findings in the Russia probe. Rep. David Cicilline, who also sits on the judiciary committee, said on Sunday that the panel was aiming for a hearing date of May 15 but had not yet finalised it with Mueller.
Trump initially said he would not stand in the way of Mueller testifying. But over the weekend, the president changed his tune and spoke out against the proposal.
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