Pelosi, Schumer: Mueller report 'appears to undercut' Barr on obstruction

Democratic congressional leaders said Thursday that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE's final report "appears to undercut" a conclusion from Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAttorney General Barr's license to kill Medical examiner confirms Epstein death by suicide Justice Dept. says Mueller report has been downloaded 800 million times MORE that President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE didn't obstruct justice.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiObjections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated Latest pro-democracy rally draws tens of thousands in Hong Kong Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down MORE (D-N.Y.) argued in a joint statement that the "differences are stark" between Mueller's more than 400-page report and what Barr has said on obstruction.

"As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller's report appears to undercut that finding," they said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Democrats are likely to focus on the obstruction question as they plot their own investigations and prepare for Barr — and potentially Mueller — to come testify.

Mueller wrote in his report that Congress has the authority to conduct obstruction of justice investigations, stating that such probes provide a check if a president is corrupt.

The attorney general defended Trump during his press conference earlier Thursday and explained his rationale for finding that Trump didn't obstruct justice based on the findings from Mueller. 

Barr argued that it was important to consider the "context" of Trump's actions, arguing that he faced an "unprecedented situation” in the course of Mueller’s investigation as well as “relentless speculation” in the media surrounding Trump’s own possible culpability in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

The attorney general added that Mueller's report shows that Trump was frustrated by a "sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks."

Barr had previously told lawmakers in a four-page letter to Congress that Mueller didn't reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice.

Mueller said in his report that his team could not reach a definitive conclusion if Trump obstructed investigations into Russian collusion in the 2016 campaign. 

“[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 reads.

The Mueller probe focused on 10 "episodes" in its obstruction inquiry, including Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyBarr predicts progressive prosecutors will lead to 'more crime, more victims' James Comey shows our criminal justice system works as intended Trump says he's 'very strongly' considering commuting Rod Blagojevich's sentence MORE and his pressuring of then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE to reverse his decision to recuse himself from overseeing the probe.

Barr said Thursday that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWhy the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing Rosenstein: Trump should focus on preventing people from 'becoming violent white supremacists' MORE “disagreed” with some of Mueller’s “legal theories” surrounding obstruction and believed some of the episodes analyzed in the report did not constitute criminal obstruction, but he noted that they did “not rely solely on that in making our decision.”

— Tal Axelrod contributed