Attorney General William Barr Testifies That Mueller Did Not Ask Him to Decide Obstruction of Justice


Under questioning from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Attorney General William Barr testified that Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not ask him to decide whether or not Donald Trump had committed obstruction of justice in relation to the Russia investigation.

On Wednesday, Barr appeared at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that was ostensibly about Trump’s 2020 budget request for the Justice Department, but as with Tuesday’s House hearing, the Mueller investigation was a frequent topic.

Leahy asked Barr about his decision to issue a legally dubious ruling on obstruction of justice, when Mueller’s report specifically said that the investigation did not “exonerate” Trump of the charge.

Leahy noted that “You [Barr] have the position that no matter the evidence, you don’t believe a president can be indicted while in office. You said the mechanism is through Congress, not a criminal court.”

“Did you have any conversation with the special counsel about why he did not reach a conclusion, one way or the other, on obstruction?” Leahy asked.

“Yes, I did,” Barr replied, and promised a “fuller explanation” when the full report is released.

“Did he express any expectation or interest in leaving the obstruction decision to Congress?” Leahy asked.

After a significant pause, Barr replied “Not that — he didn’t say that to me, no.”

“So he said the obstruction decision should be up to you?” Leahy asked.

“He didn’t say that either,” Barr replied, adding “But that’s generally how the Department of Justice works. Generally, grand juries are to investigate crimes and a prosecutor’s role at the end of the day is binary. Are there charges or no charges, is this a crime or not a crime?”

But as Leahy noted, Barr believes that a sitting president cannot be charged no matter what.

Barr again promised a more complete explanation upon the release of the report.

Watch the clip above, via CNN.

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