Attorney General Bill Barr said Sunday in a letter to Congress that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had determined that there is “not sufficient” evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice. Barr said the constitutional question of whether a sitting President can be indicted did not influence their decision not to bring charges against Trump.
Separately, Barr wrote in his letter that the special counsel had found no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in its attempts to influence the 2016 election.
According to the attorney general’s letter, Mueller opted not to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” on obstruction after his “thorough factual investigation.” Barr and Rosenstein then concluded that Trump’s conduct did not meet the legal definition.
Apparently quoting from Mueller’s report itself, Barr said that Mueller explained that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
In a brief discussion of why Barr and Rosenstein decided not to bring an obstruction charge, Barr noted that Mueller had found no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia on Russia’s election meddling efforts.
The absence of such evidence was “not determinative,” Barr said, but “bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction.”
“Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding,” Barr said. “In cataloguing the Presidents actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgement, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent.”