Mueller Investigation

Bill Barr 'Disagreed' with Some of Robert Mueller's 'Legal Theories' on Obstruction

In a press conference shortly before Mueller's report was released to the public

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election details 10 episodes involving possible attempts by President Donald Trump to obstruct justice, Attorney General William Barr said at a press conference this morning. Barr also said that Mueller "did not find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russia-linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign."

"So that is the bottom line. After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes," the attorney general added.

And here's the relevant portion of Barr's remarks about those "10 episodes," which are likely to drive the news cycle today:

The report recounts 10 episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense.

After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and I concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.

Although the deputy attorney general and I disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision. Instead, we accepted the special counsel's legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the special counsel in reaching our conclusion.

So why did Barr decide not to pursue obstruction of charges? It's all about Trump's "intent," he said. "The president took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation," Barr explained. "Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation."

The attorney general also claimed that "Trump faced an unprecedented situation," with "relentless speculation in the news media" regarding his "personal culpability."

"There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks," Barr said.

As Reason's Scott Shackford explained Wednesday, federal prosecutors often use obstruction of justice to get convictions. If they can't find evidence of an underlying crime, they look to prove process crimes (such as lying to FBI) instead. This is what happened to Martha Stewart. Back when he was a federal prosecutor, former FBI Director James Comey indicted her for obstructing justice during an insider trading investigation. Stewart was not actually charged with insider trading, though she went to prison anyway.

So if Trump did indeed not collude with Russia, it's a good thing that he won't face charges for any possible process crimes. As Shackford noted: "Some people really, really want to believe that Trump must have done something to have kept Mueller from finding evidence of coordination with the Russians. So they are invested in trying to use obstruction to accomplish what the primary investigation could not: unseat Trump."

One other noteworthy part of Barr's* press conference had to do with the Russian GRU intelligence agency's efforts to hack the Democratic National Committee's servers and publish the stolen information. "The special counsel also investigated whether any member or affiliate of the Trump campaign encouraged or otherwise played a role in these dissemination efforts," Barr said. "Under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy."

This, as it happens, is what federal prosecutors are charging WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with doing in an unrelated case. They say he helped Chelsea Manning hack government computers. Publishing the resulting information, as Barr pointed, is not in itself a crime.

The Mueller report was released to the public shortly after the press conference. Reason's Shackford will be analyzing its contents and writing about them, so stay tuned.

*CORRECTION: This post originally stated that the press conference in question included remarks from Special Counsel Mueller, rather than Attorney General Barr. I regret the error.

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116 responses to “Bill Barr 'Disagreed' with Some of Robert Mueller's 'Legal Theories' on Obstruction

  1. Are we permitted to comment on this?

    1. Joe Seyton will ‘disagree’ on your “intent” to comment.

  2. This should be good. And just in time for Easter week. Can’t wait to see this modern day telling of the stations of the cross. The twist being your not sure who will end up on the cross.

  3. >>>So why did Barr decide not to pursue obstruction of charges?

    think word “justice” is missing? or new crime maybe

    1. Justice is not essential to some ‘legal theories.’

    2. Well, not breaking the law does tend to obstruct prosecutors from pressing charges…

  4. Barr can try to cover for Putin’s Puppet all he wants. I’m confident Nancy Pelosi and the #BlueTsunami House will #Impeach.

    1. Trump rewarded Russia for helping him win the election. Sounds like collusion to me.

      1. How did Trump reward Russia? By bombing them in Syria? By reinstating the sanctions and walking out of the deal with Russia’s ally Iran? By telling NATO to start arming to defend itself against Russia? By sending arms to the Ukraine to fight Russian agression? By greatly expanding US oil production which drives the price of oil down and deprives Putin of money? By trying to get Europe to stop buying Russian gas and instead by US CNP and thus reduce Russian leverage over them?

        Do tell.

      2. I wonder which nation OP will say helped Trump be reelected in 2020?

        Hahaha.

        MAGA!

        1. Everyone knows Trump is really a mole for the Chinese.

          1. Then he really should fit in better with the DC crowd.

            1. No kidding. If that were true DC would love him.

        2. It had to be somebody; it’s simply not possible that AMERICANS would elect someone like Trump, right?

      3. Ordinary Person
        April.18.2019 at 11:32 am
        “..Sounds like collusion to me.”

        As if some TDS victim’s opinion is worth anything.
        Grow up.

  5. This amuses me. Hopefully the dems will keep on beating a dead horse so nothing can ‘ get done ‘ in congress for a few years.

    1. The best kind of Congress; it’s not like we don’t already have enough laws and regs.

      1. It will be 20 months of the Democrats reminding America that yes they really are the too crazy, stupid and evil to vote for under any circumstances party.

        1. Great opportunity for actual Libertarians to fill the void left by crazy Democrats that will not be elected.

          Then hang the RINOs out to dry on elections, by calling out their records of out-of-control spending.

        2. Then they will suddenly snap out of it in early Nov. 2020 and wonder when Sanders is going to write his next best-selling novel “What happened, again.”

  6. Mueller says he found evidence that Trump may have directed Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador but he couldn’t determine whether that evidence was sufficient to prove Trump directed Flynn to lie. I don’t understand how an investigation could say there’s evidence that indicates Trump was in on Flynn’s lies and not interview Trump to tease out more evidence.

    1. It’s pretty easy to understand. They asked to interview Trump. He told them to fuck off. Which was certainly the right thing to do, being as notoriously imprecise with his off-the-cuff language as he is.

      1. Even if he were percise, it was still the right thing to do since the whole point of the interview was to then claim he lied and charged him with perjury. Note, the White House offered to answer any questions the Special Counsel had. And Barr said the White House was extraordinarily cooperative with the investigation. So, all they did was tell them to fuck off the President has better things to do. But they obstructed by asserting the President’s right to tell them to fuck off.

        1. Yup. Mueller really only got convictions because people were stupid enough to talk to him and then Mueller charged them with lying.

          Perjury traps to find minor federal crimes.

          I think its hilarious that you, me, and some others on here having been calling Mueller some kind of shitbag for years. It will be funny as Lefties turn on their ‘White Night’ Mueller, since Trump was not removed from office.

          1. Mueller says Congress should pursue criminal charges against Trump because he was prevented by law from pursuing a full and complete investigation.

            1. Please cite that.

            2. Mueller says Congress should pursue criminal charges against Trump because he was prevented by law from pursuing a full and complete investigation.

              No he doesn’t. Congress doesn’t pursue criminal charges you moron. Who are you Lousa Mensch?

              1. Congress should direct, via legislation, the Department of Justice to form a special counsel to investigate whether President Trump obstructed justice during the Mueller investigation. We can keep doing this forever. And we should. Gridlock 2020!

            3. Ordinary Person
              April.18.2019 at 12:02 pm
              “Mueller says Congress should pursue criminal charges against Trump because he was prevented by law from pursuing a full and complete investigation.”

              Bull
              .
              .
              .
              shit.

            4. This isn’t even good gaslighting.

    2. Trump told Flynn to talk to the Russians. Flynn then lied to the FBI about talking to the Russians. The fact that Trump was the one who told him to talk to the Russians is not proof or even very good evidence that Trump then told Flynn to lie to the FBI. Moreover, Flynn’s coversations with the Russians were entirely legal and approved by the Obama administration. So why would Trump tell Flynn to lie to the FBI about conversations that were legal and approved by the then siting Obama administration.

      Try harder dipshit.

      1. Mueller is the dipshit then because he says he couldn’t rule it out and that there was evidence to believe Trump was in on it. Trump used his office to obstruct the investigation in this very instance. Mueller should have made Trump use the 5th Amendment.

        1. You’re the dipshit because Mueller couldn’t do that.

          1. Then we didn’t get a fair investigation because Trump used his office to avoid the ordinary process of interviewing witnesses.

            1. They interviewed hundreds of witnesses and were given access to any document they wanted. And no, the target of an investication does not in the ordinary process talk to the FBI. Moreover, there is no evidence that the Special Counsel was denied access to any evidence or pertinent facts.

              Just stop lying.

              1. Trump would have been a crucial witness in Flynn’s criminal inquiry. If Trump was innocent and honest he’d have nothing to hide and every reason to help uncover the crimes of others.

                1. Flynn pled guilty. What difference could Trump talking to them made? Moreover, you still haven’t explained why if Trump told Flynn to lie to the FBI, Flynn didn’t say so after his plea agreement.

                  My God you are making this easy.

            2. “”Then we didn’t get a fair investigation because Trump used his office to avoid the ordinary process of interviewing witnesses.””

              Hahahahaha..

              Not talking to a investigator about your actions is a constitutional right, not a use of the office.

              How far are you willing to dig yourself into the stupid hole?

              1. It never got to the 5th Amendment because Mueller couldn’t force Trump to testify under the special counsel laws.

                1. So now you are complaining that the laws that were in place from the start are the problem?

                  Keep digging.

                2. Those laws say that because the 5th Amendment requires it.

                  1. The way the 5th Amendment works is you are ordered to testify and then you claim the privilege on the witness stand. Mueller could not compel to to the witness stand because of Trump’s special status as president.

                    1. Trump didn’t have to talk to them. And both Barr and Mueller agree that there was no impediment to the investigation.

                    2. “The way the 5th Amendment works is you are ordered to testify and then you claim the privilege on the witness stand. ”

                      Um, no. The right may be asserted at any time.

                      Try again.

                      Oh, and shove ‘privilege’ up your ass.

                    3. The way the 5th Amendment works is you are ordered to testify and then you claim the privilege on the witness stand.

                      No, that’s not the way it works at all.

        2. Again, why would Trump tell Flynn to lie about a meeting that was both legal and approved by the Obama administration?

          Unless you can explain that or provide some direct evidence that he told Flynn to lie, then you claim that Trump obstructed justice is absurd. Note also, Flynn took a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with the government. There has been no claim that he has ever lied or failed to truthfully cooperate as part of his plea deal. If Trump told him to lie, why didn’t Flynn role on Trump when he pled guilty? Your theory relies on Flynn despite pleading guilty still lying to protect Trump. That makes even less sense than your claim that Trump told Flynn to lie about a known and approved meeting.

          1. OP’s entire existence over these past two years has been dependent on Mueller being Decimus Brutus.

          2. How is the USA supposed to be destroyed if all the Deep State guys don’t stick together?

            The Democrats are losing voters by the thousands, goddammit!

        3. “”Mueller is the dipshit””

          You didn’t believe that until you didn’t get the end result you wanted.
          Now you are grasping at air with your appeal to personal attack.

          1. I don’t believe Mueller is a dipshit. John called me a dipshit when I was just repeating what Mueller had said hence my reference to “then Mueller is the dipshit” which he isn’t.

            1. No. I pointed out how your theory that Trump told Flynn to lie to the FBI is totally inconsistent with the facts. The fact that “Meuller couldn’t rule it out” means nothing. He can’t rule out there being aliens involved either. The fact remains there is not a single piece of evidence Trump told Flynn to lie about anyting nor is there a credible explanation why he would do such a thing.

            2. “”Mueller is the dipshit then because he says he couldn’t rule it out and that there was evidence to believe””

              Those are your words calling Mueller the dipshit. You may have come to a conclusion of that based on what John was saying. But you clearly the one calling him that.

    3. Ordinary Person
      “…I don’t understand…”

      The story of your life.

  7. How about we just look at what Barr said.

    Although the deputy attorney general and I disagreed with some of the special counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law,
    He and Rosenstein disagreed with Muehller. They disagreed about if something amounted to obstruction “as a matter of law”. As a matter of law means that even if all of the facts alleged were true, it still wouldn’t be obstuction. So, Mueller thought something could have been obstruction but the facts didn’t warrent it and Barr and Rosenstein thought even if all of the facts were proven it sill wouldn’t be obstruction.

    we did not rely solely on that in making our decision. Instead, we accepted the special counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the special counsel in reaching our conclusion.

    Barr went along with Muehllers view of the law but then agreed with Muehller’s conclusion that there were not any facts proven that could justify an obstruction charge.

    So why did Barr not pursue obstruction? Because he, Rosenstein, and Muehller all agreed that there wasn’t any facts to support such a charge. The legal disagreement is a red herring.

    The author of this article did a poor job explaining what Barr said.

    1. Legal reasoning is hard.

    2. “The author of this article did a poor job explaining what Barr said.”

      I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the author was not interested in accurately representing what Barr said.

  8. I was out for a few days and when I returned post “new” reason format, I read to “welcome” piece and only saw that the hit and run blog was no more. Assumed the comments section was kaput until I noted the little pink balloon. Interesting description on “Rational Wiki” about the old hit and run blog:

    “Speaking of which, the comments section on Reason’s “Hit ‘n Run” rivals Yahoo! News for being the worst hive of scum and villiany on the Internet, and provides plenty of evidence to conclude that Web 2.0 with its “anyone can comment on anything” model perhaps isn’t such a good idea”

    I’ve never seen a better rationale for maintaining it.

    1. >>>“anyone can comment on anything” model perhaps isn’t such a good idea”

      anyone can comment on anything is the only way anything works wtf.

      1. I think that is the author saying he lost a lot of arguments on here.

        1. i guess if the dude can’t hang the next complaint would be the format.

        2. Purveyor of received wisdom is not interested in a marketplace of ideas.

          Figures.

    2. peaking of which, the comments section on Reason’s “Hit ‘n Run” rivals Yahoo! News for being the worst hive of scum and villiany on the Internet, and provides plenty of evidence to conclude that Web 2.0 with its “anyone can comment on anything” model perhaps isn’t such a good idea

      What can you say other than sometimes people overdo it with praise.

      1. ^

    3. Rational Wiki is to rationality what the Center for Science in the Public Interest is to science.

  9. http://pjmedia.com/trending/seattle-man-punches-priest-after-asking-hows-trump/

    Angry retard punches Orthadox priest putting gas in his car because he somehow thought the priest was associated with Trump.

    Maybe this is why Shreek isn’t on here today.

    1. Wow. I actually know him and have been to that monastery. Why does the fact that this happened in Seattle not surprise me?

  10. “”So they are invested in trying to use obstruction to accomplish what the primary investigation could not: unseat Trump.”””

    It’s been about removing Trump by any means from the beginning. They do care about what is questionable, lawful, or a valid use of executive power.

    According to Steele’s testimony, the dossier he put together was for the purpose of contesting the election, so the act of removing Trump was in play before Trump was elected.

  11. Manafort colluded with the Russians. He was working with a Russian military intelligence officer and sharing campaign strategy with this guy. Barr misrepresented the truth when he claimed no Americans colluded with Russia. Manafort was caught red-handed colluding.

    1. Good thing ‘Collusion’ as you put it, is not a federal offense.

    2. Manafort colluded with the Russians. He was working with a Russian military intelligence officer and sharing campaign strategy with this guy

      Manfort pled guilty to tax evasion. There is no evidence of that at all. Also, Manfort was Trump’s campaign manager for something like a month and then was fired.

      1. But while he was campaign manager Manafort was working with this Russian dude and involving this guy in the effort to elect Trump. It’s coordination and collusion.

        1. No he wasn’t. You are just making that up. Show a link showing that is true or shut up.

          1. It’s in the Mueller report.

            1. Yeah where?

              Barr comes out strongly saying Mueller found no collusion. He would not do that when it’s so easy for Mueller to publicly state otherwise. Mueller has broke his silence before to set the record straight, he could easily do that again. Some members of congress is going to see a less redacted report. It would make ZERO sense for Barr to make statements that can easily be proven wrong.

          2. OP now thinks he knows better about what happened than the lead investigator.

            1. Maybe OP really is Mueller…

              1. I’m beginning to think it’s an OBL sock; hard to believe someone capable of using a keyboard to actually form words could be so pathetically stupid without being a parody.

                1. I don’t think OP is an OBL sock. But OP’s investment that Trump was guilty before the investigation and anything to the contrary should not be believed is being well displayed.

          3. Get used to what OP is saying. We’re going to be hearing it non-stop from TV, NPR, and Dems until November 2020.

            1. Indeed Ray,

              That’s the reason for my comment about Festinger below.

              1. That book comes to mind so frequently these days.

            2. Get used to what OP is saying. We’re going to be hearing it non-stop from TV, NPR, and Dems until November 2024.

              FTFY

        2. Your desperation is vastly amusing. It’s understandable too, given the gaggle of losers vying for the Democrat 2020 nomination.

    3. Ordinary Person
      April.18.2019 at 11:54 am
      “Manafort colluded with the Russians…”

      Bull
      .
      .
      .
      shit

    4. No, pages 129 to 140 of the Mueller report describe Manafort’s interactions with his Ukrainian contacts, who happened leaders of the ousted Russian puppet government. Manafort’s interactions with them are wholly self-serving and definitely a scheme to get a big payout and a large amount of money owed from previous work done by Manafort.

  12. If only Leon Festinger was alive today. He would have much to study.

  13. I love looking through all the MSM boomer tier sites saying Congress could still find Trump guilty of obstruction of justice. Barr literally just proved they cannot.

    1. They can attempt to impeach him if they want. But I don’t think anything in report is going to rise to the level Pelosi set.

      Pelosi is likely to have a few harsh words, then move on.

    2. Mueller and Rosenstein appointments fall under the executive branch. Trump is head of the executive branch and as such could have fired both of them at any time during the investigation for any reason and it still would have not amounted to obstruction. The fact that members of congress attempted to pass a law protection Mueller was an over reach of the legislative branch and unconstitutional. There is a clear divide here and congress has no authority to prevent Trump firing either of them.
      This is where Mueller’s opinion differs from Barr’s. Barr knows that Trump cannot be prosecuted for any interference in Mueller’s investigation because Mueller and Rosenstein were both underlings of Trump who is head of the executive branch. A position given to him by the American electorate.
      At any time, trump could have fired Rosenstein and appointed somebody like Barr to reign in Mueller’s behaviour and force him to present his findings
      The fact that Trump allowed Mueller to continue investigating for so long is testimony to his confidence in his innocence.
      It is not difficult to have such confidence in your innocence when you know that you are not guilty and there is no proof that you are.
      It was absolutely laughable when the press kept stating that Trump’s behaviour was akin to someone who was guilty.
      Trump was professing his innocence from day 1. How can that be portrayed and someone acting guilty

  14. Even beyond the rather poor reasoning here, what the hell is up with the quotations in the headline? Do you have any evidence that Barr didn’t disagree with Mueller’s legal theories? If not, there’s no reason for the quotes around disagreed. The same for legal theories. Mueller had certain opinions about what the law said. Those opinions are what are commonly called legal theories.
    We get it. You think the orange man is bad. But, that’s hardly an excuse for poor writing.

    1. As I explain above, they all agreed that there was no evidence of obstruction. They just disagreed on whether it was even possible to have obstruction under these circumstances. Joe either isn’t very bright or isn’t being honest here.

  15. The Mueller report has been released. The truth is known, and all conspiracy theories have been disabused. All shall accept the truth, much like with the JFK assassination, and UFOs.

    Except Roswell. That was a total cover-up.

  16. […] his Article II powers, such as the hiring and firing of executive branch officials, Mueller firmly disagrees with Barr, saying a corrupt motive can make such acts criminal. Barr, by contrast, argues that […]

  17. […] Whether that end came via impeachment or through a Nixonesque forced resignation following a collapse of public and congressional support, it doesn’t really matter. In a normal political environment, the Mueller report would have been a damning, un-survivable bombshell for the administration—even without the special counsel finding evidence of collusion with Russia or choosing to bring charges of obstruction. […]

  18. […] was no collusion – by any American, that Trump fully cooperated with the investigation and even by Mueller’s bizarre legal reasoning wasn’t obstructive, and that Buzzfeed’s Cohen story is a complete pack of lies. The left desperately wanted to […]

  19. So Donnie obstructed justice out of frustration, and therefore it’s not a real crime … eh?
    Translation: “Trump told me that he didn’t attempt to obstruct, and therefore I have declared his efforts to obstruct as non-obstruction.”

    William Barr — the first Director of Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment.

  20. Everything in D.C. is about the underlying GRAVY TRAIN. By all accounts Mueller was mailing it in for at least a year. It seems to be a D.C. Lawyers Jobs Program. And Stroke and Page, 50k+ emails in 6 mo.? How does that work? Were they emailing each other during coitus?
    So what is the next GRAVY TRAIN scenario. Is there campaign cash in House hearings?

  21. […] govern, about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-release press conference, Barr agreed with Mueller’s assessment. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude with the […]

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  26. […] to govern, about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-launch press meeting, Barr agreed with Mueller’s evaluation. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude with the […]

  27. […] govern, about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-release press conference, Barr agreed with Mueller’s assessment. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude with the […]

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  32. […] govern, about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-release press conference, Barr agreed with Mueller’s assessment. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude with […]

  33. […] govern, about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-release press conference, Barr agreed with Mueller’s assessment. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude with […]

  34. […] about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-release press conference, Barr agreed with Mueller’s assessment. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude […]

  35. […] about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-release press conference, Barr agreed with Mueller’s assessment. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude […]

  36. […] about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-release press conference, Barr agreed with Mueller’s assessment. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude […]

  37. […] govern, about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-release press conference, Barr agreed with Mueller’s assessment. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude with […]

  38. […] govern, about as far from corrupt intent as you can get. At the pre-release press conference, Barr agreed with Mueller’s assessment. Trump knew, and Mueller came to know, that he did not collude with […]

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