Ex-federal prosecutor: Mueller report offers 'knock-down case for obstruction' for anyone but Trump

Ex-federal prosecutor: Mueller report offers 'knock-down case for obstruction' for anyone but Trump
© Greg Nash

A former federal prosecutor said Friday that he has charged and convicted people for obstruction of justice with a “fraction” of the evidence presented against President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerGraham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' House progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller MORE’s report.

“If this was any person other than the president of the United States, I can say as a former prosecutor, this would be a knock-down case for obstruction,” said CNN legal analyst Elie Honig. “I’ve charged and convicted on obstruction of justice based on a fraction of this evidence.”

Honig said the “big sticking point” in the Mueller report was the long-standing Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president.


He added that Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan House Intelligence enjoys breakthrough with Justice Department Schiff blasts Trump's 'un-American' order to intel agencies to cooperate with Barr probe MORE “misrepresented” the facts to the American public when he said during a Thursday press conference that the policy did not play a role in the decisionmaking process.

Barr said in remarks before the release of the report that Mueller “did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgement” regarding the allegations, adding that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinJake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller MORE concluded there was not sufficient evidence to charge Trump. 

“In fact, when you look at the report, Mueller really wrestles with that decision and I think it’s [the policy] the only reason that he did not charge the president,” Honig said. “And why, I think, what it seems like Robert Mueller was trying to do was send it over to Congress for their consideration.”

Mueller wrote in his report that his office accepted the legal conclusion drawn by the Office of Legal Counsel, which found that the “indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutional assigned functions.”

The report states that Mueller was unable to “conclusively" determine during the course of the investigation that no criminal conduct occurred regarding whether Trump obstructed justice.

“[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report states.

“The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” it states.

Mueller’s team analyzed 10 "episodes"  in which the president potentially obstructed justice.