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Update: The Justice Department and Special Counsel’s office have released a joint statement insisting that there is “no conflict” between Mueller and Barr’s accounts of why the special counsel’s office didn’t consider charging President Trump with a crime.
“The Attorney General has previously stated that the Special Counsel repeatedly affirmed that he was not saying that, but for the [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion, he would have found the President obstructed justice,” said DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec along with special counsel spokesman Peter Carr in a Wednesday evening statement.
“The Special Counsel’s report and his statement today made clear that the office concluded it would not reach a determination – one way or the other – about whether the President committed a crime. There is no conflict between these statements.”
As the left piles the pressure on Speaker Pelosi to launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump following Special Counsel Mueller’s apparent ‘greenlight’ during his brief statement this morning, a rather large question looms over an apparent disagreement between Mueller and his boss, Attorney General William Barr.
During a Wednesday statement, Mueller said that his non-decision decision on whether the president obstructed justice was “informed” by “a long-standing opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Justice Department that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime…That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited.”
However, as Gregg Jarrett of Fox News reports, according to Barr, that’s not what Mueller told multiple people during a meeting on March 5, 2017. Here’s what Barr told Senators during his May 1st testimony:
“We were frankly surprised that they were not going to reach a decision on obstruction and we asked them a lot about the reasoning behind this. Mueller stated three times to us in that meeting, in response to our questioning, that he emphatically was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found obstruction.”
Barr said there were others in the meeting who heard Mueller say the same thing – that the OLC opinion played no role in the special counsel’s decision-making or lack thereof. The attorney general repeated this in his news conference the day Mueller’s report was released to the public:
“We specifically asked him about the OLC opinion and whether or not he was taking a position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the OLC opinion. And he made it very clear several times that was not his position.”
Yet, today, Mueller told a different tale.
So did Mueller lie (to the public today or to the AG in 2017)?
Perhaps House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), knowing this is hanging over Mueller’s head, will slow roll his calls for a Mueller testimony now.
And as we consider the he-said, he-said above of whether Mueller based his decisions on whether a President could be indicted or not, we note Speaker Pelosi is still tamping down the impeachment inferno, saying , “Many constituents want to impeach the president. But we want do do what is right and what gets results what gets results.”
But while many cheered today’s statement as clearing a path for Congressional Democrats to seek impeachment, one famous liberal – Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz – was infuriated by Mueller’s partisan behavior today. In a furious op-ed at The Hill, Dershowitz slammed Mueller:
“Until today, I have defended Mueller against the accusations that he is a partisan. I did not believe that he personally favored either the Democrats or the Republicans, or had a point of view on whether President Trump should be impeached. But I have now changed my mind. By putting his thumb, indeed his elbow, on the scale of justice in favor of impeachment based on obstruction of justice, Mueller has revealed his partisan bias.He also has distorted the critical role of a prosecutor in our justice system.”
Adding that what Mueller said today “is worse than the statement made by then FBI Director James Comey regarding Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign,” regarding the recklessness with which she handled classified material, concluding defiantly:
“No prosecutor should ever say or do anything for the purpose of helping one party or the other. I cannot imagine a plausible reason why Mueller went beyond his report and gratuitously suggested that President Trump might be guilty, except to help Democrats in Congress and to encourage impeachment talk and action. Shame on Mueller for abusing his position of trust and for allowing himself to be used for such partisan advantage.”
A good question that many others, even left-leaning individuals, are asking tonight. We give the last words to Fox’s Greeg Jarrett as they seemed to sum things up well: “He refused to make a decision to charge the president in a court of law but was more than willing to indict him in the court of public opinion…His report was a non-indictment indictment. It was calumny masquerading as a report.”