U.S. Attorney General William Barr just released his summary of the Mueller Report, and judging by his letter, many legal experts say it amounts to a personal victory for President Donald Trump.
Folks, this is a total legal exoneration of the president. Congress will want to know more, of course. But the topline: No conspiracy, no obstruction.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) March 24, 2019
The Barr/Rosenstein letter is a big win for Trump, assuming it summarizes the report accurately. The big issue was whether there was an intentional arrangement with the Russians to influence the election, and Mueller did not find evidence of it. That’s a game-changer.
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) March 24, 2019
According to Barr, Mueller said he found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
The matter of obstruction of justice was a little stickier. Mueller declined to make a decision on this matter.
“Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction,” wrote Barr. “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that the evidence in the investigation was insufficient in establishing Trump committed obstruction of justice.
The Mueller Report’s apparent approach to the obstruction question left some legal experts preplexed.
“The summary of the Special Counsel Report is out and, as predicted, it has found no Russian collusion. It declined to make a finding on obstruction and left the matter to the Congress and the public. Frankly, the latter finding seems a bit curious,” wrote George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley in a newsletter. “There is a criminal code on the elements of this crime and we did not wait for two years for Meuller to say ‘meh.’ Attorney General Bill Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein however did look at the evidence and concluded that the evidence does not amount to obstruction.”
Barr’s letter doesn’t seem it’s enough to satisfy some regarding the obstruction issue. This has some experts calling for the full report to come out, not the report-as-summarized-by Barr.
The Barr Letter says Mueller did not make a determination of whether Trump obstructed justice. It sets out both sides. But Barr concludes— on his determination — that there was no obstruction. How did he do that without trying to interview Trump? Full report now needs to come out
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) March 24, 2019
As @page88 has noted: The Barr Letter is not the Mueller Report. As to the obstruction issue, tone and detail could matter.
— Ross Garber (@rossgarber) March 24, 2019
Barr’s views are certainly important — he was Mueller’s boss — but for a view of the precise findings and legal analysis within the Mueller Report, one had to read the report itself.
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) March 24, 2019
Impeachment lawyer Ross Garber noted that the summary “raise impeachment concerns” regarding obstruction of justice, but noted that the letter was a “strong result for Trump on substance.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously said that what Mueller believed isn’t indictable may still be impeachable.
Rachel Stockman contributed to this report.
[Image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images]