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Mueller prosecutor says next attorney general should investigate Trump

Andrew Weissmann, a deputy to former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE, said Tuesday that the next attorney general under President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden offers support to union organizing efforts Senate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE should investigate President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE.

Weissmann in a New York Times op-ed said that any investigation or prosecution of Trump “would further divide the country” and “would surely consume the administration’s energy.” But he added he thinks it’s necessary. 

“But as painful and hard as it may be for the country, I believe the next attorney general should investigate Mr. Trump and, if warranted, prosecute him for potential federal crimes,” he wrote. 

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The former deputy to Mueller during his investigation said he didn’t come to the viewpoint to pursue a probe into the soon-to-be former president “lightly” but added that “Trump’s criminal exposure is clear.”

Weissmann cited the evidence collected during Mueller’s investigation to determine whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election and whether Trump interfered with the probe. He said the team “amassed ample evidence to support a charge that Mr. Trump obstructed justice.”

“What precedent is set if obstructing such an investigation is allowed to go unpunished and undeterred?” he wrote.

He also pointed out that both the Manhattan district attorney and the New York attorney general are investigating Trump on claims of tax and bank fraud, adding these probes could unveil new information leading to federal charges against Trump. 

“Sweeping under the rug Mr. Trump’s federal obstruction would be worse still,” Weissmann said. “The precedent set for not deterring a president’s obstruction of a special counsel investigation would be too costly: It would make any future special counsel investigation toothless and set the presidency de facto above the law.”

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“In short, being president should mean you are more accountable, not less, to the rule of law,” he added.

Weissmann noted that Trump could pardon himself “to avoid criminal liability,” which the new attorney general could potentially challenge. The president has said previously he has the power to pardon himself but has not taken action.

A day after the op-ed’s publication, Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn after he pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators during the Mueller probe. Trump also granted clemency to his ally Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneDOJ investigating whether Alex Jones, Roger Stone played role in Jan. 6 riots: WaPo Nearly a quarter of Trump's Facebook posts in 2020 included misinformation: analysis Federal prosecutors investigated Proud Boys ties to Roger Stone in 2019 case: CNN MORE in July.