Donald Trump was “frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency,” Attorney General William Barr said in Thursday morning’s press conference, suggesting that frustration and anger exonerated Trump from obstruction of justice. Trump and the White House cooperated with the investigation, Barr insisted, omitting the fact that Trump himself did not testify and that Mueller details a list of ways witnesses withheld relevant information from the investigation. According to Barr, “Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.” So: The simple fact that Trump was frustrated and yet (semi-)cooperated with the Mueller investigation shows that he did not obstruct—or so his attorney general-slash-defense attorney would have us believe.
When a reporter followed up to ask why he was being so generous to Trump, Barr insisted that “The statements about his sincere beliefs are recognized in the report that there was substantial evidence for that.” Okay … Trump was frustrated and angry. He’s an angry man in general. How many people are currently imprisoned for crimes committed when they were frustrated and angered by sincere beliefs?
Barr presented a sympathetic vision of a president facing “an unprecedented situation,” with scrutiny from law enforcement and “relentless speculation” from the media. The poor guy! Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Remembering that Trump did not fully cooperate with the Mueller investigation and that Mueller did not clear Trump of obstruction, let’s take a look at what was frustrating and angering Trump, in Mueller’s words rather than Barr’s.