The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a 2019 memorandum Wednesday that explained that then-President Donald Trump should not be prosecuted for obstruction of justice because his statements about the Mueller investigation had a valid purpose.
The memo, prepared on the basis of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia “collusion,” and sent to then-Attorney General William Barr, found that Trump’s attacks on the investigation were motivated by legitimate frustration.
Furthermore, the memo concluded that Trump could not be prosecuted for his statements about the investigation or criticisms of cooperating witnesses without intruding on the president’s authority to control the executive branch under the Constitution.
Politico reported Wednesday:
In the nine-page memo disclosed Wednesday, two of the most senior officials in the Justice Department advised then-Attorney General William Barr that Trump’s threats to fire Mueller and his various public and private outbursts against witnesses he viewed as hostile or unhelpful to him didn’t amount to the sort of case prosecutors would bring under their established standards.
“Having reviewed the Report in light of the governing legal principles, and the Principles of Federal Prosecution, we conclude that none of those instances would warrant a prosecution for obstruction of justice, without regard to the constitutional constraint on bringing such an action against a sitting president,” the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Engel, and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Edward O’Callaghan wrote in the March 24, 2019, memo.
Mueller had known early in the investigation that there was no evidence of any so-called Russia “collusion,” though he and the prosecutors working for him tried to build a case for charging the president with obstruction of justice in the investigation.
The memo was sought by left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who fought a years-long legal battle to obtain the memo, in the hope it would turn up evidence of some kind of coverup to protect Trump.
That suspicion was the basis for claims by Democrats that Trump had somehow “politicized” the DOJ: if the department would not release such documents, and would not call for Trump to be prosecuted, it therefore must have been “politicized.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.