Hundreds of former prosecutors say evidence against Trump supports charges

If Donald Trump weren’t president of the United States, he would have been charged with obstruction of justice, over 400 former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials said Monday in an extraordinary public letter.

The joint statement, which had 417 signers by early afternoon, rebuts Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that the evidence of potential obstruction uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller was “not sufficient” to establish that Trump committed a crime.

“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” the statement reads.

President Trump pauses during a meeting at the White House on Friday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
President Trump pauses during a meeting at the White House on Friday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

It was signed by, among others, Bill Weld, a former U.S. attorney and Massachusetts governor who is running against Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination; John Martin Sr., a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York; and Paul Rosenzweig, senior counsel to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who led the investigation that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

[Starr report veteran says Trump’s crimes are ‘thousandfold’ worse]

The Mueller report, released last month, did not find that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the election. It left open the question of obstruction of justice by Trump, citing a Justice Department memo that precludes bringing an indictment against a sitting president. But it chronicled at least 10 episodes of efforts by Trump to obstruct the federal probe that the statement says satisfies all of the elements for an obstruction charge: “conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming.”

They include “the President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort; the President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and the President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.”

“Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here,” the former prosecutors add. “But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice ... runs counter to logic and our experience.”

Barr made the decision not to bring charges against Trump. The former prosecutors did not say what they believe should happen next. Their statement comes as congressional Democrats continue their investigations into Trump’s conduct as they weigh possible impeachment of the president.

Trump has falsely claimed that the special counsel’s investigation exonerated him on both collusion and obstruction.

But Mueller explicitly declined to exonerate Trump in his report.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report read. “We are unable to reach that judgment.”


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