Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded last year that they had sufficient evidence to seek criminal charges against President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice over the president’s alleged pressuring of then FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to shut down an FBI investigation of the president’s then national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Privately, the two prosecutors, who were then employed in the special counsel’s office, told other Justice Department officials that had it not been for the unique nature of the case—the investigation of a sitting president of the United States, and one who tried to use the powers of his office to thwart and even close down the special counsel’s investigation—they would have advocated that he face federal criminal charges. I learned of the conclusions of the two former Mueller prosecutors not by any leak, either from them personally or from the office of special counsel. Rather, the two prosecutors disclosed this information in then-confidential conversations with two other federal law enforcement officials, who subsequently recounted what they were told to me.
On March 24, without consulting with Mueller, Attorney General William Barr declared that in the absence of a final judgment by Mueller as to whether or not the president broke the law, he, the attorney general, had taken it upon himself to make that determination in a summary he sent to Congress. Barr decided that Trump wouldn’t be charged with a crime. But many career Justice Department employees, former prosecutors for the special counsel, and legal scholars have questioned the propriety and legitimacy of Barr’s making such a decision. [Continue reading…]