While most lawyers popping up in the news of late have argued that Donald Trump would have been charged if he weren’t the President of the United States, one of Bill Clinton‘s former lawyers is focusing instead on Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In a somewhat stinging op-ed for the Washington Post, David Kendall accused Mueller of “abdicating his duty” as special counsel by not making a traditional prosecutorial judgment.
Kendall, as it was noted at the top if the article, represented former President Clinton while independent counsel Ken Starr investigated. Kendall is also currently representing Hillary Clinton. Kendall works at the law firm of Williams & Connolly, where another former Clinton lawyer named Emmet Flood found success. Flood happens to be Trump’s current White House counsel; he also happens to have made similar criticisms of Mueller recently.
“But the failure to draw any conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice was a massive dereliction of the special counsel’s duty, and the report’s explanation of this failure is both incoherent and illogical,” Kendall said. He criticized Mueller for saying that “[D]ifficult issues . . . prevent[ed]” him “conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred” when it clearly “did not take long for Attorney General William P. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to resolve those ‘difficult issues.'”
Kendall said Mueller performed a “massive flinch,” which was not to reach the “required binary decision” of prosecuting or not.
After noting the Office Legal Counsel opinion against indicting a sitting president “was well known when [Mueller] was appointed,” Kendall pointed out that the OLC ruling “does not preclude alternative action when evidence of criminal conduct by the president is discovered, and there is clear precedent for such action.”
In 1973, the Watergate special prosecutor transmitted to Congress a ‘road map’ of evidence developed in its investigation of President Richard M. Nixon, with the approval of the chief judge of the district court. It is no excuse to declare that a criminal charge would ‘potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct,’ since Mueller could have submitted a similar ‘road map’ without filing criminal charges.
In Kendall’s view, Mueller’s obstruction evidence did “not actually appear ‘difficult’ at all,” so he’s calling it Mueller’s “failure to come to a conclusion about obstruction.”
“In leaving Barr — who lacks the independence that the special counsel role was designed to preserve — to render judgment on the evidence and the law, Mueller abdicated his duty,” Kendall concluded.
[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]