Despite Barr’s repeated insistence that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel ruling on indicting an executive didn’t affect the outcome of the report, the report makes it clear that this ruling — and other concerns about constitutional roles — are all that stood between Trump and an orange jumpsuit. Mueller had all the evidence necessary to not just indict, but convict Trump of repeatedly lying to investigators, interfering with witnesses, suborning perjury, and instructing others to carry out obstruction.
On the conspiracy front, Mueller makes it clear that, far from being absolved, he was unable to collect necessary information in large part because Trump and members of his campaign lied, withheld evidence, refused to testify, or actively destroyed evidence. Far from cooperating, Trump and members of his team used their positions and their authority to make it impossible for all the evidence to be collected and examined.
The conflict between Mueller’s view that he could not so much as make an accusation of a crime, and Barr’s position that he could cheerfully forgive Trump for anything, even if it required outright lying about the findings of the investigation, made any further investigation pointless.
What Barr waved off as disagreements on “legal theory” during his pre-redacted report spin session, was simply that Mueller felt that no one at the DOJ was empowered to decide Trump’s guilt. Barr not only felt that he did have that authority, he had announced his decision even before sitting down for his Senate confirmation.
Indications are that had Mueller been appointed as an independent prosecutor under those expired regulations, he would have felt otherwise. But because the special counsel is a DOJ position reporting to the attorney general, he found it to be constrained by a tight interpretation of DOJ rules.
Mueller believed he had to follow the rules, even if that meant not making accusations about someone clearly engaged in criminal acts. Barr believed there were no rules.
That basic conflict meant that the moment Senate Republicans approved Barr’s nomination, the investigation was over — and its outcome pre-decided.
Comments are closed on this story.