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

Democratic congressional leaders said Thursday that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's final report "appears to undercut" a conclusion from Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump sides with religious leaders in fight against governors Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans Senate Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Planned Parenthood loans MORE that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order MORE didn't obstruct justice.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' Federal aid to state and local governments should rely on real numbers MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans States, companies set up their own COVID-19 legal shields 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.

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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 ComeyFBI director Wray orders internal review of Flynn case Grenell says intelligence community working to declassify Flynn-Kislyak transcripts FBI director stuck in the middle with 'Obamagate' MORE and his pressuring of then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBiden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' Trump says Sessions wasn't 'mentally qualified' to be attorney general Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' MORE to reverse his decision to recuse himself from overseeing the probe.

Barr said Thursday that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinSenate Republicans issue first subpoena in Biden-Burisma probe Graham to release report on his probe into Russia investigation before election McConnell embraces subpoena of Obama-era officials 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