The head of CREW—which fought for the document’s release—said that “it twists the facts and the law to benefit Trump and does not comport with a serious reading of the law.”
Following a watchdog group’s win in court last week, the Biden administration on Wednesday released an unredacted memorandum from 2019 about whether then-President Donald Trump obstructed Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russia’s election interference.
Noah Bookbinder—president of the organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)—highlighted that then-U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr pointed to the memo from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel to claim there was no justification for charging Trump with obstruction of justice.
“The memo presents a breathtakingly generous view of the law and facts for Donald Trump,” Bookbinder said. “It twists the facts and the law to benefit Trump and does not comport with a serious reading of the law of obstruction of justice or the facts as found by Special Counsel Mueller.”
Great work by @CREWcrew https://t.co/Y6QncfSiJI
— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) August 24, 2022
As Bookbinder explained: “The memo is premised in large part on the argument that there was no underlying criminal conduct and that it’s hard to charge obstruction without an underlying crime. Of course, that’s not what Mueller actually found.”
“Mueller found there was not sufficient evidence to charge Trump and others with conspiring with Russia,” CREW’s leader continued. “He didn’t find no crime, just not enough evidence for charges. Of course, Trump couldn’t know about that future conclusion when he decided whether or not to obstruct.”
He also noted that the document “takes an exceedingly cramped view of prior cases” and “relies on Trump’s use of open-ended language [about] his ‘hope’ the investigation would be let go, and his delegation of firing prosecutors or narrowing investigations to others when he could have done it himself, as exonerating Trump.”
It doesn’t recognize all the cases and real life experience that make clear this is how orders often work in the real world, from politics to organized crime.
— Noah Bookbinder (@NoahBookbinder) August 24, 2022
“The memo is not just wrong; it is dangerous coming from a usually respected office at the Department of Justice,” Bookbinder added. “It is clear why Barr did not want the public to see it.”
In a series of Wednesday tweets contrasting the memo with Mueller’s report, New York Times reporter Charlie Savage said that the newly released document “reads like a defense lawyer’s brief.”
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