400 former prosecutors say Trump would have been indicted for obstruction of justice if he were not president
After a two-year FBI investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that Russian interference occurred "in sweeping and systematic fashion" during the 2016 US presidential election. The 400-page report "identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign," and resulted in criminal charges for 34 individuals, including Trump's former national security adviser (Michael Flynn), campaign chair (Paul Manafort) and attorney (Michael Cohen). But ultimately, Mueller's report did not establish that the Trump campaign "coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities."
The FBI also investigated whether or nor President Donald J. Trump committed obstruction of justice, and did not reach a judgment. The report chronicles at least ten attempts by Trump to obstruct justice, but states these "efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful...largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests." As a result, the report "does not conclude that the President committed a crime, [but] it also does not exonerate him."
After citing a 1973 Justice Department memo that precludes indicting a sitting president, Mueller noted that Congress has the right to investigate and take action, if they desire.
On March 25, Attorney General William Barr, who was appointed by Trump, provided a four-page summary of the Mueller report's "principal conclusions." In response, Trump falsely claimed the results were "total exoneration," although even Barr noted he was specifically not exonerated on the charge of obstruction of justice. Last week, we learned Mueller wrote a letter to Barr complaining about his summary, stating it "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance" of the report's work or conclusions.
On April 18, the Department of Justice finally released the 400-page redacted version of the Mueller report, which revealed the aforementioned episodes of Trump's potentially criminal behavior. (Trump responded on Twitter by calling the report's statements "total bullsh*t," quite a turnaround from "total exoneration.") Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein - another Trump appointee - concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to establish that the President committed obstruction of justice, but some in Congress aren't so sure. The debates over whether to indict or impeach Trump rage on.
On Monday, more than 400 former federal prosecutors stated that Trump would have been indicted for obstruction of justice if he were not currently president. The extraordinary letter was published on Medium and signed by 426 prosecutors (and counting) who served in Republican and Democratic administrations dating back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The letter states:
"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 Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming.
"These include: The President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort; The President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign...
“Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice ... runs counter to logic and our experience."
On Twitter, Trump criticized Democrats' efforts to get Mueller to testify before Congress about his report, claiming they "looking for a redo" on the investigation. He also falsely claimed the investigation concluded there was "no obstruction" (again) and asserted the investigation was fueled by "Angry Democrats," although Mueller is a registered Republican.