In explaining the decision to eschew a “traditional prosecutorial judgment,” Mueller said he faced not only having to untangle Trump’s motivation for trying to curtail the
Mueller found that Trump made numerous attempts to interfere with the investigation but he was largely foiled — and saved— by those around him, most notably former White House counsel
But in examining a series of episodes, Mueller laid out a process that will almost certainly be questioned during any congressional testimony and be debated in law school classrooms and bars for years to come.
From the outset, Mueller said he was bound by the
Mueller’s team worried such moves could leak, leaving Trump in the position of having a prosecutor say he committed a crime without the ability to defend himself at a public trial.
“The concerns about the fairness of such a determination would be heightened in the case of a sitting President, where a federal prosecutor’s accusation of a crime, even in an internal report, could carry consequences that extend beyond the realm of criminal justice,” Mueller wrote.
Mueller said he recognized that any charging recommendation could “potentially pre-empt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct,” an apparent reference to
But Mueller rejected Trump’s lawyers’ broad interpretation of presidential authority. They argued that the president has expansive powers under the law, and the special counsel couldn’t investigate Trump’s decisions to fire an appointee, such as
Mueller said he could investigate Trump and he thoroughly examined 10 episodes looking at whether there was an “obstructive act” and whether Trump had a corrupt intent.
Ultimately, he laid out the facts, finding that while there wasn’t an underlying crime of Russian collusion, Trump still took steps that “were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations.”
“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” Mueller wrote, “but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
“There’s just so much here it’s just impossible not to conclude that he was guilty of obstruction of justice,” said Akerman, who had not yet gotten through all of the report. Still, he said Mueller was bound by the
“He charged people he could charge,” he said. “He couldn’t charge Trump.”