Trump's top AG pick slammed Mueller's obstruction of justice probe in memo to DOJ: report

William Barr, President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE’s pick for attorney general, sent the Justice Department (DOJ) an unsolicited memo in June criticizing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation into possible obstruction of justice, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Barr stated that he was a "former official," writing that he hoped his "views may be useful," the Journal reported. According to the paper, Barr wrote that he was concerned about Mueller's probe into possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

According to the document, which was obtained and reviewed by the Journal, Barr said Mueller's probe is based on a "fatally misconceived" theory that would cause irreparable harm to the presidency.

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“As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law,” Barr reportedly wrote in the 20-page document, which was sent on June 8, according to the Journal.

“Moreover, in my view, if credited by the Justice Department, it would have grave consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the Presidency and to the administration of law within the Executive branch,” he continued, according to the paper.

Barr went on to describe Mueller's handling of the investigation "grossly irresponsible" with "potentially disastrous implications" for the executive branch, the paper reported. “Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction,” he said, according to the paper.

According to the paper, Barr was concerned with the aspect of Mueller's investigation that is reportedly looking into whether Trump obstructed justice by asking former FBI director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump rips Krugman, NYT after columnist writes GOP no longer believes in American values Dems seek to rein in calls for impeachment Heavy lapses in judgment are politicizing the justice system MORE to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia before later ousting Comey.

Barr reportedly insisted in his memo that, while a president can be accused of obstructing justice, Trump could not be guilty of having done so.

“I know you will agree that, if a DOJ investigation is going to take down a democratically-elected President, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime—not a debatable one,” Barr reportedly wrote in the memo. “It is time to travel well-worn paths; not to veer into novel, unsettled or contested areas of the law; and not to indulge the fancies by overly-zealous prosecutors.”

Barr declined to comment to the Journal, but a DOJ spokesperson told the paper that Barr offered his thoughts "on his own initiative."

According to the Journal, after Trump tapped Barr to lead the Justice Department, Barr told the president that he had composed a memo concerning parts of Mueller's Russia investigation that could come up during his confirmation hearing. A person familiar with the matter said the memo did not affect Trump's decision to select Barr.

The memo was reportedly sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinHeavy lapses in judgment are politicizing the justice system Top Judiciary Republican reviews less-redacted Mueller report Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' MORE and Steven Engel, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. According to the paper, Barr shared the memo with a top attorney representing the White House in Mueller's investigation around the time he shared it with Rosenstein.

According to the Journal, DOJ officials, including Rosenstein, did not solicit Barr's input or take action upon receiving the memo. A person familiar with the matter told the paper that Rosenstein and Engel did not share the memo with Mueller or Trump.

“I have admired Bill Barr for decades, and I believe that he will be an outstanding Attorney General," Rosenstein told the Journal.

"Many people offer unsolicited advice...about legal issues they believe are pending before the Department of Justice," he continued. "At no time did former Attorney General Barr seek or receive from me any non-public information regarding any ongoing investigation, including the Special Counsel investigation. His memo has had no impact on the investigation.”

The Journal noted that the memo could come up during his Senate confirmation hearings. A confirmation vote on Barr could take months, leaving acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker at the Justice Department's helm.

The Hill has reached out to Barr and the Justice Department for comment. 

Barr criticized Mueller’s team last year over donations some of its lawyers had made in the past, telling the Post in 2017, “prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party.”

“I would have liked to see [Mueller] have more balance on this group,” he added.

After leaving the Justice Department in the 1990s, Barr served in several roles in the private sector and is currently a lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis, where he advises companies on government enforcement and regulatory actions.

— Updated 11:43 p.m.