Barr says he felt Mueller 'could've reached a decision' on obstruction

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump accuses Democrats of crime amid rising calls for impeachment DOJ, special counsel say there is ‘no conflict’ on Mueller, Barr statements about obstruction inquiry Schiff: Mueller can answer ‘a great many questions’ beyond his report MORE says he believes special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerBiden campaign: Impeachment ‘may be unavoidable’ now Chris Christie: Mueller ‘contradicts’ Barr’s summary of his findings The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Mueller breaks silence in surprise statement MORE could have reached a decision on whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: ‘I was not informed about’ reported request to move USS John McCain Meghan McCain: Trump is a ‘child’ who will always be ‘deeply threatened’ by my dad Trump accuses Democrats of crime amid rising calls for impeachment MORE obstructed justice during the course of his 22-month investigation.

“I personally felt he could’ve reached a decision,” Barr told CBS on Thursday. 

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Barr pointed to Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance that says a sitting president cannot be indicted, adding that Mueller “could’ve reached a decision as to whether there was criminal activity.”

Mueller said Wednesday in remarks from the Justice Department that the guidance prevented his team from charging Trump with a crime.

“It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge,” he said.

However, the special counsel also declined to exonerate Trump, leaving some Democrats to say that it was up to Congress to pursue impeachment.

“After that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Mueller said.

During the clip released Thursday, Barr pushed back on the idea that Mueller was handing over to Congress the decision on whether to take action against Trump.

“I am not sure what he was suggesting, but you know the Department of Justice doesn’t use our powers of investigating crimes as an adjunct to Congress,” Barr said.

Some Democrats have seized on Mueller’s remarks Wednesday — his first public comments since he was appointed special counsel two years ago — to push for the start of an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

During the surprise press briefing at the Justice Department, Mueller said that he did not want to testify before Congress and that his sprawling 448-page report detailing his investigation’s findings “speaks for itself.”

Mueller did not directly mention impeachment in his remarks, but did note that the same DOJ guidance that prevented any potential indictment of Trump also states that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”

The DOJ has also sought to bridge any potential gap between remarks given by Barr and Mueller on the role that department guidance played in Mueller’s decision to not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice.

Barr, in the past, has suggested that the regulation was not the deciding factor in Mueller’s decision to not say whether obstruction of justice definitively took place, whereas Mueller indicated on Wednesday that was the case.

A DOJ statement issued late Wednesday asserted that there “is no conflict” between each of the official’s statements.

Mueller laid out evidence of possible obstruction of justice by Trump in the second half of his report issued last month, but did not reach a conclusion.

Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinDOJ, special counsel say there is ‘no conflict’ on Mueller, Barr statements about obstruction inquiry Schiff: Mueller can answer ‘a great many questions’ beyond his report Graham after Mueller press briefing: ‘For me, the case is over’ MORE reviewed the evidence and said it was “insufficient” to bring an obstruction charge against Trump.

Rachel Frazin contributed.

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