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March 26, 2019
Pleased to be included in this roundup including Professor Laurence Tribe, Mimi Rocah, Neal Katyal, Kathleen Clark, Jill Wine-Banks and more published by Politico on Sunday, March 24, within just hours of the release of Attorney General William Barr’s letter purporting to summarize the Mueller Report. We were each asked, “Has the President Been Exonerated?”
‘Barr’s conclusions are not credible’
Jennifer Taub is a professor of law at Vermont Law School.
The president has not been exonerated by special counsel Mueller. And, that is what matters. Quite significantly, when addressing the obstruction of justice investigation, the special counsel did not, in the attorney general’s words, “draw a conclusion—one way or another—as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction.” Barr also directly quoted Mueller, writing, “The Special Counsel states ‘while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’” Instead of leaving that finding as is, perhaps as a roadmap or referral by Mueller to Congress, Barr took it upon himself to make the determination on obstruction. While he was free to make that choice, it did not belong in this letter purporting to summarize the Mueller report. That conclusion is not, and should not be, treated as part of Mueller’s report. In short, Barr’s conclusions are not credible. Remember, Barr lobbied for his job in the Trump administration in 2018 by submitting an unsolicited, 20-page legal memo on why the president had not obstructed justice. The fix was in when Trump replaced his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, with Matt Whitaker (in an acting capacity) and then Barr. This is a sad day for the rule of law. Furthermore, the president has not been exonerated by any of the other prosecutors who are examining his conduct in connection with hush money payments made in violation of federal election law or related to his inaugural campaign.