The lawyer, Neal Katyal, who is now an MSNBC legal analyst, expressed his opinion after reading Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the findings of Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“There are any number of reasons the president should not be taking a victory lap,” Katyal wrote in a New York Times opinion letter published this morning, adding:
“First, obviously, he still faces the New York investigations into campaign finance violations by the Trump team and the various investigations into the Trump organization. And Mr. Barr, in his letter, acknowledges that the Mueller report ‘does not exonerate’ Mr. Trump on the issue of obstruction, even if it does not recommend an indictment.”
“But the critical part of the letter is that it now creates a whole new mess. After laying out the scope of the investigation and noting that Mr. Mueller’s report does not offer any legal recommendations, Mr. Barr declares that it therefore ‘leaves it to the attorney general to decide whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.’”
Barr also “improperly concluded that the president did not obstruct justice when he fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey,” Katyal added.
“Such a conclusion would be momentous in any event. But to do so within 48 hours of receiving the report (which pointedly did not reach that conclusion) should be deeply concerning to every American.”
According to Barr’s letter to Congress, Mueller’s probe found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. We’re supposed to take his word for it.
But Barr also admitted that Mueller did not determine whether or not Trump obstructed justice while president. He said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided not to pursue an obstruction charge after reviewing the special counsel’s findings.
By doing this Barr made himself the defense attorney, the jury and the judge in the Trump obstruction of justice case. And nobody thinks this was reasonable for him to do (except of course for Trump and his supporters).
Trump called Barr’s letter a “complete and total exoneration.” But that is just another Trump lie.
Since Barr sent his letter, Democrats have focused on the obstruction question. They are now demanding that the full Mueller report be made public.
Katyal said in his op-ed that Barr’s letter “raises far more questions than it answers” by not sharing the evidence Mueller gathered on obstruction of justice.
Specifically, he said Barr should interview Trump to determine whether the president acted with “corrupt intent” when firing Comey. Without such an interview, Katyal wrote, a conclusion cannot possibly be reached on the obstruction question.
As a final note, Katyal also said that Congress should get both Barr and Mueller to come in and testify under oath. Perhaps if that happened we could get to the real truth underlying the Mueller probe. And if we do that, it is very likely that Trump’s gloating will disappear and be replaced by real concern that he may be indicted and/or impeached in the very near future.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.