Attorney General William Barr held a press conference at 9:30 am on Thursday regarding the Mueller Report, which is set to be released later Thursday morning. The press conference was widely seen as an attempt to manipulate the public’s perception of the report before anyone has seen it.
As expected, Barr repeated what he had said in his four-page summary of the report, offering a defense of Donald Trump and said that the report found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Barr stated that Mueller found 10 episodes of Trump potentially obstructing justice.
After finding no underlying collusion with Russia, the Special Counsel’s report goes on to consider whether certain actions of the President could amount to obstruction of the Special Counsel’s investigation. As I addressed in my March 24th letter, the Special Counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation. Instead, the report recounts ten episodes involving the President and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense.
After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers, the Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.
Although the Deputy Attorney General and I 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 did not rely solely on that in making our decision. Instead, 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.
Democratic House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and four other committee chairs called on Barr to cancel the press conference: “This press conference, which apparently will not include special counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it.”
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