During Wednesday congressional testimony, former special counsel Robert Mueller told lawmakers that President Trump could in fact be charged with obstruction of justice, but only after he leaves office.
“Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Republican representative Ken Buck asked Mueller during the latter’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.
“Yes,” Mueller responded simply.
“You believe you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?” the Colorado Republican asked.
“Yes,” Mueller answered. “The OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion says that the prosecutor, while he cannot bring a charge against a sitting president, nonetheless can continue the investigation to see if there are any other persons who might be drawn into the conspiracy.”
"Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?"
Robert Mueller: "Yes."
"You could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?"
— ABC News (@ABC) July 24, 2019
The report describing the results of the nearly two-year probe stated that Mueller’s team did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump team and the Kremlin, but left open the question of whether the president had obstructed justice during the investigation. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein later concluded that there was not enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction.
The special counsel’s decision not to reach a conclusion in the report on the obstruction issue has roiled both Republicans and Democrats, with the former accusing Mueller of leaving the door open to speculation on the matter while the latter seeming unsatisfied letting the Trump administration’s Justice Department have the final say.
Mueller is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee later in the day for further questioning.