Attorney General William Barr explained that President Trump’s telling White House counsel Don McGahn to fire special counsel Robert Mueller wasn’t obstruction of justice because Trump was responding to what he viewed as false allegations against him.
Barr said the Justice Department’s view is that an effort to determine whether Trump obstructed justice is complicated by Trump not being found guilty of colluding with the Russians during the 2016 election.
“If the president is being falsely accused, which the evidence now suggests that the accusations against him were false, and he knew they were false, and he felt that this investigation was unfair, propelled by his political opponents and was hampering his ability to govern, that is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
“So that’s another reason that we would say that the government would have difficulty proving this beyond a reasonable doubt,” Barr said.
The special counsel’s report found that there was no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Trump, his campaign associates and the Russians. But Mueller did not come to a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice, leaving it up to Congress to determine.
But Barr said after consulting with Justice Department lawyers and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein they concluded that the evidence didn’t prove obstruction. The report said Trump called McGahn twice to tell him to have Rosenstein, who was heading up the special counsel’s probe, fire Mueller.
McGahn refused and threatened to resign, even going as far as cleaning out his White House office.
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