National Security

Barr on Trump asking aide to change account to Mueller: ‘That’s not a crime’

Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday asserted that it’s “not a crime” for President Trump to ask an aide to lie for him, and argued there is a difference between asking someone to fire special counsel Robert Mueller versus having him removed based on a conflict of interest.

At a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questioned Barr over whether Trump obstructed justice. 

{mosads}”You still have a situation where a president essentially tries to change the lawyer’s account in order to prevent further criticism of himself,” Feinstein said, referencing an episode detailed in Mueller’s report involving former White House counsel Don McGahn.

“Well that’s not a crime,” Barr responded.

“So you can, in this situation, instruct someone to lie?” Feinstein asked. 

Barr argued that Trump would have to be “impairing the evidence in a particular proceeding” for it to amount to obstruction of justice and suggested McGahn had taken note of Trump’s requests to remove the special counsel to memorialize that the president was not explicitly asking for Mueller to be “fired.” 

“There is a distinction between saying to someone ‘go fire him, go fire Mueller,’ and saying ‘have him removed based on conflict,’ ” Barr said. “They have different results.”

The latter request, he asserted, would lead to another special counsel being appointed.

Democrats have grilled Barr on Wednesday over his conclusion that Mueller’s findings were not sufficient to charge Trump with obstruction of justice after the special counsel neither exonerated nor implicated the president on the matter.

The special counsel detailed 10 episodes in his full report that investigators reviewed for potential obstruction involving the president. Among the incidents detailed were Trump’s efforts to remove the special counsel, and his efforts to have McGahn deny the president had ordered him to have the special counsel removed.

Tags Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Robert Mueller William Barr

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