Attorney General William Barr previewed the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report Thursday, repeating that Mueller had found no collusion between any American and Russians attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
He also reiterated that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had concluded that there was insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice by the president, even given Mueller’s apparent suggestion that such a case might be made.
Barr described the section of the report dealing with potential obstruction of justice, saying that Mueller had listed “ten episodes involving the president,” along with legal theories that might suggest they constituted obstruction of justice. Barr then explained that he and Rosenstein considered the facts, as well as Mueller’s theories, and concluded that “the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense.”
He added that he and Rosenstein disagreed with some of Mueller’s theories, but accepted Mueller’s legal framework for the purposes of analysis, and still found no obstruction of justice, partly because the president’s actions had “non-corrupt motives.”
The attorney general explained at length:
In assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. As the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability. Yet as he said from the beginning, there was, in fact, no collusion. And as the Special Counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks. Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the president took no act that, in fact, deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.
The report will be submitted to Congress and later posted publicly at the Department of Justice website.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.