WASHINGTON, Aug 26 – The Department of Justice released on Wednesday under a judicial writ the complete 2019 memo during which two top officials advised then-Attorney General William Barr to not charge then-President Donald Trump with obstructing special counsel Robert Mueller in the investigation. Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
Barr’s decision to clear Trump after receiving the memo drew criticism from many Democrats and a few former Department of Justice lawyers who accused the highest enforcement official of protecting his boss. Mueller himself has not exonerated Trump of committing obstruction of justice in a trial to obstruct the investigation.
The department released parts of the nine-page report while keeping other parts classified. the govt. watchdog group Citizens for Accountability and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit to challenge the redactions and last week led a federal judicature in Washington to order its full release.
“The brief represents a breathtakingly generous view of the law and therefore the facts for Donald Trump,” CREW said in a very statement. “Among many other issues, this is often supported by the very fact that there was no criminal conduct, which Mueller didn’t find, and it gives au fait the very fact that there’s no precise precedent to check it too.”
The memo, dated March 24, 2019, was written by Steven Engel, then the top of the department’s legal counsel’s office, and Edward O’Callaghan, the department’s next top official. They wrote that charging Trump with obstruction would be problematic because the complete first part of Mueller’s report found insufficient evidence that Trump or any member of his campaign team illegally conspired with Russia.
“Given this conclusion, the evidence doesn’t establish a criminal act or criminal conspiracy by the President to which any obstruction or attempted obstruction by the President was directed,” the memo concludes.
She also said Mueller’s investigation was “not kind of like any reported case the department has previously charged” using obstruction laws.
“The memo supports the chilling conclusion that any president can interfere in any investigation if he believes it could harm him politically,” CREW said.
Mueller, a former FBI director appointed as special counsel by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, released a 448-page report documenting Russian election meddling to sow American dissent, boost Trump’s chances, and discredit his Democratic opponent, Clinton. The report details numerous contacts between Trump campaign figures and therefore the Russians.
It also lists 10 episodes within which Trump tried to forestall Mueller’s investigation, including firing then-FBI Director James Comey and directing then-White House counsel Don McGahn to inform Rosenstein that Mueller must be fired, which McGahn refused to try to do.
After reading Mueller’s report, Barr decided it had been up to him as attorney general to make his mind up whether to charge Trump with obstruction and sought information from Engel and O’Callaghan, which led to the memo.
Barr also faced criticism from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who first ordered the department to release the report after she concluded he had been “dishonest” in the way he described Mueller’s findings to the general public when he released his own summary of the special counsel. findings before the full public report.
Trump, who is considering another presidential run in 2024, faces a slew of federal and state investigations into other matters, including his removal of classified records after he leaves office in 2021.