In a 2019 memorandum published on Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) argued that former President Donald Trump shouldn’t be charged with obstructing justice because his remarks on the Mueller probe had a legitimate purpose.
The memo, written based on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into “collusion” between the United States and Russia, and submitted to then-Attorney General William Barr, determined that Trump’s criticisms of the probe were driven by genuine annoyance.
Trump’s remarks regarding the inquiry or attacks of cooperating witnesses, the document further found, could not be prosecuted without violating the president’s constitutional right to exercise control over the executive branch.
Wednesday’s Politico story said:
Trump’s threats about firing Mueller and his various private and public outbursts against witnesses he perceived as unhelpful or hostile to him didn’t amount to the kind of case prosecutors would bring with their established standards, according to a nine-page memo released on Wednesday by two of the Justice Department’s most senior officials.
“Having studied the Report in light of the underlying legal principles, including the Principles of Fed. Prosecution, we find that not any of those instances will support a prosecution for the obstruction of justice, without respect to the constitutional bar on bringing such an action as this against a sitting president,” wrote assistant AG for the Office of Steven Engel Legal Counsel and the principal associate deputy AG Edward O’Callaghan in the report.
Despite trying to make a case on accusing the president of obstruction of justice in the probe, Mueller and the prosecutors working for him were aware early on in the inquiry that there was no proof of any alleged “collusion” with Russia.
The left-leaning Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) requested the document in the hopes that it would reveal proof of a cover-up intended to defend Trump. CREW engaged in a protracted court struggle to get the memo.
Democrats said that Trump had “politicized” the DOJ, on the grounds that the agency must have been “politicized” if it would not reveal the materials and would not demand that Trump be brought to justice.