In spite of the fact that the special counsel found numerous instances of obstruction by Trump that could have led to him being charged with a crime, from firing FBI director James Comey and ordering a White House attorney to fire Robert Mueller to warning witnesses not to cooperate, the government released the 2019 DOJ memo Barr used as justification for not charging him with obstructing the Mueller investigation on Wednesday. The memo, however, insists that none of that was worthwhile of pursuing legal action and was written at Barr’s request by Ed O’Callaghan, the principal associate deputy attorney general, and Steven Engel, the former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel. This assertion is based on what some claim to be a factual misrepresentation.
Bill Barr made a big impression during the public hearings held by the January 6 committee this summer when he called Donald Trump’s allegations of election fraud “bullshit,” “completely bullshit,” “stupid,” “crazy,” “complete nonsense,” and “a great, great disservice to the country” in his videotaped testimony. But it’s crucial to keep in mind that, for the bulk of his tenure as attorney general, Barr ran the Justice Department like it was the 45th president’s own legal department, earning the moniker “chief footstool to Donald Trump.” Yes, Barr made his allegiances abundantly clear, whether he was claiming with a straight face that the FBI had violated the president’s “civil liberties,” using the DOJ to try to thwart a rape defamation lawsuit, or attempting to bury the “urgent” whistleblower report that served as the foundation for the House’s first impeachment proceedings against Trump. But today is your fortunate day if you wanted more proof that the previous AG was a complete liar!
First off, the document makes the case that since the Mueller investigation failed to prove one, Trump should not be charged with obstruction of justice because such accusations are often brought when someone prevents the investigation and prosecution of an underlying crime. That is obviously not how the law operates, therefore you would most likely still be in trouble if you tried to keep information from the police about a murder attempt that didn’t actually end in a death. The memo authors also contend that Trump shouldn’t face charges because others opposed his efforts to obstruct justice. First off, the memo makes the case that since the Mueller investigation failed to prove one, Trump should not be charged with obstruction, which is often brought about when someone prevents the investigation and prosecution of an underlying crime. That is obviously not how the law operates, therefore if you kept information from the police about a murder attempt that didn’t actually end in a death, you would probably still be in trouble. And then there’s the memo authors’ argument that Trump shouldn’t be indicted since other people didn’t support his efforts to obstruct justice. It also points out that Trump never used the word “fire” in a literal sense when speaking to McGahn about Mueller, perhaps because he behaves like a mafia boss who uses code. (In sworn evidence, McGahn claimed Trump contacted him at home and instructed him to “call me back when you do it” and “Mueller has to go.”) Regarding Trump telling McGahn to lie about attempting to get Mueller dismissed, we already know the Barr DOJ’s position on that matter because, during his testimony before lawmakers, Barr said it was “not a crime” for the president to order staff members to lie to investigators.