In the report, [Mueller] laid out 10 specific incidents his team examined, each of which might constitute—singly or in aggregate—evidence of obstructive conduct on the part of the president. “The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime,” Barr wrote.
But there is another, simpler way to understand Mueller’s report. A footnote spells out that a criminal investigation could ultimately result in charges being brought either after a president has been removed from office by the process of impeachment or after he has left office. Mueller explicitly rejected the argument of Trump’s lawyers that a president could not be guilty of obstruction of justice for the conduct in question: “The protection of the criminal justice system from corrupt acts by any person—including the President—accords with the fundamental principle of our government that ‘[n]o [person] in this country is so high that he is above the law.’”
But if Mueller believes a president could be held to account after he leaves office, he also spelled out another concern with alleging a crime against a sitting president: the risk that it would preempt “constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.”
The constitutional process for addressing presidential misconduct is impeachment. [Continue reading…]