Without knowing what is in The Mueller Report as far as evidence goes, it is still very hard to comprehend how Barr did exonerate the President.
The report as Mueller framed it was for Congress to take action (impeach ultimately, despite the fact it is not a winnable action), since from Mueller’s vantage point, there was not an ability to indict a sitting president.
True to form, Barr stuck with the President and absolved him of any more Mueller scrutiny.
Dems will have to fight like crazy but keep an aggressive eye on unseating T in 2020.
> What to Make of Bill Barr’s Letter - Lawfare
The second section of the letter is both more complicated and less salutary for the president—and, again, readers must await the underlying document for a full accounting. In sharp contrast to the president’s tweet, Barr quotes Mueller as writing: “[W]hile this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” As Barr puts it, Mueller actually “did not draw a conclusion” at all as to whether Trump committed obstruction of justice in his interactions with the investigation. He refrained in view of the “‘difficult issues’ of law and fact” involved in that determination.
Mueller, writes Barr, did not make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” on the subject. Instead, for each act with a potentially obstructive nexus, “the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction.”
This is, as a preliminary matter, a striking decision on Mueller’s part. It almost certainly flows from the difficult questions that arise when one tries to imagine how one would apply the obstruction of justice statutes to presidential acts that are, on their face, authorized by Article II of the Constitution—questions we have addressed at great length on this site.
While Mueller left the question of criminality unaddressed, Barr himself did not. Barr opines that Mueller’s “decision to describe the facts of his obstruction inquiry without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime”—though it is not clear why Barr felt this to be the case. Barr includes his own determination, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s, that Mueller’s evidence “is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
In justifying this view, Barr notes Mueller’s determination that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian electoral interference” and argues that the lack of evidence of an underlying crime, though not dispositive, “bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction.” The report does not identify any actions that, in Barr’s and Rosenstein’s view, “constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent,” each of which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to establish the crime of obstruction of justice under Justice Department guidelines.
Notably, Barr says that his and Rosenstein’s assessment was made independently of constitutional questions about the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president. Though Barr does not make reference to any concerns over the interaction between presidential authority and possible obstruction offenses, it is worth keeping in mind his memorandum on the subject from June 2018, in which he argued that conduct authorized by Article II definitionally cannot constitute obstruction.
Finally, Barr indicates that more material from Mueller’s report is forthcoming, writing that his office is at work identifying information protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)—which protects material obtained before a grand jury from public disclosure—and “information that could impact other ongoing matters.” After that, Barr writes, he “will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released.”
So the good news is that there is more information on the way—though it is unclear how much more or when it will appear. Democratic members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, are already calling for the report to be released in its entirety. Pelosi and Schumer released a joint statement indicating skepticism of what they call “Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry,” and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler indicated that his committee will call on Barr to testify. Chairman of the Senate intelligence committee Richard Burr, for his part, thanked the attorney general for his letter and called for the release of “as much of the report as possible