Attorney General William Barr revealed during a hearing on Wednesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had repeatedly told Barr that he was not indicating that he would have charged President Donald Trump if Trump were not a sitting president.
“Special counsel Mueller stated three times to us in that meeting in response to our questioning that he emphatically was not saying that but for the OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion, he would have found obstruction,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “He said that in the future, the facts of the case against a president might be such that a special counsel would recommend abandoning the OLC opinion, but this is not such a case.”
The point made by Barr was significant, as some Democratic politicians and journalists had tried to push the narrative that Mueller would have charged Trump but could not do so because Trump is a sitting president.
Barr also addressed the latest narrative pushed by the media and Democratic Party that Barr mischaracterized Mueller’s Russia report in his March letter to Congress.
“[Mueller] was very clear with me that he was not suggesting that we had misrepresented his report,” Barr told the committee. “I told Bob that I was not interested in putting out summaries, and I wasn’t going to put out the report piecemeal. I wanted to get the whole report out. And I thought summaries by very definition, regardless of who prepared them, would be under-inclusive and we’d have sort of a series of different debates and public discord over each tranche of information that went out, and I wanted to get everything out at once.”
“The Deputy Attorney General and I, therefore, conducted a careful review of the report, looking at the facts found and the legal theories set forth by the Special Counsel,” Barr continued. “Although we disagreed with some of the Special Counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we accepted the Special Counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion.”
“We concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Barr added. “The responsibility of the Department of Justice, when it comes to law enforcement, is to determine whether crimes have been committed and to prosecute those crimes under the principles of federal prosecution.”
“With the completion of the Special Counsel’s investigation and the resulting prosecutorial decisions, the Department’s work on this matter is at its end aside from completing the cases that have been referred to other offices,” Barr concluded. “From here on, the exercise of responding and reacting to the report is a matter for the American people and the political process. As I am sure you agree, it is vitally important for the Department of Justice to stand apart from the political process and not to become an adjunct of it.”