Four takeaways from Barr’s letter about Mueller investigation

“We finally got our first glimpse of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final conclusions from his Russia investigation, with Attorney General William Barr summarizing them on Sunday,” according to the Washington Post. “Below are the big excerpts, with some analysis.”

1. No firm conclusion on obstruction of justice

“It became pretty clear on Friday that Mueller would not be charging anyone on the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia during the 2016 election, given he opted for no more indictments. But that left completely unanswered the question of whether President Donald Trump had committed obstruction of justice.

“Perhaps the biggest revelation from the report is that Mueller takes no firm position as to whether Trump committed a crime, instead opting to lay out the evidence and let others make that determination:

“After making a ‘thorough factual investigation’ into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.

“The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'”

2. No collusion, officially

“As mentioned above, there wasn’t much doubt that Mueller had decided there wasn’t proof of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. But Barr’s summary makes it clear:

“The report further explains that a primary consideration for the Special Counsel’s investigation was whether any Americans including individuals associated with the Trump campaign – joined the Russian conspiracies to influence the election, which would be a federal crime.

“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: ‘The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’

3. Barr personally doesn’t see obstruction

“The lack of collusion proof appears to have spared Trump a potentially harsher finding on the obstruction of justice portion:

“In making this (obstruction) determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that ‘the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,’ and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction.

“Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding.

“In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

4. There is more to come

“Ever since his confirmation hearing, in which Barr indicated that he was restricted from releasing Mueller’s entire report, the question has been how much we would find out. Barr’s letter Sunday suggests there is more to come.

“As I have previously stated . . . I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.”

The rest of the article is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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