By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has the right to instruct advisers not to testify before congressional oversight probes related to the Russia investigation, the White House said in a letter that blasts Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report as defective.
White House legal counsel Emmet Flood, in an April 19 letter to Attorney General William Barr obtained by Reuters on Thursday, said Trump’s decision to let advisers cooperate with the Mueller probe does not extend to congressional oversight investigations.
“It is one thing for a president to encourage complete cooperation and transparency in a criminal investigation conducted largely within the Executive Branch. It is something else entirely to allow his advisers to appear before Congress…” the letter said.
The letter was transmitted to Barr a day after the release of the Mueller report, in which the special counsel determined that Trump did not collude with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign but pointedly did not say whether the president committed obstruction of justice.
Flood’s letter said the Mueller report itself suffers from “an extraordinary legal defect.” According to relevant law, the letter said, Mueller should have rendered a judgment on whether to prosecute or not to prosecute.
Instead, Mueller produced “a prosecutorial curiosity – part ‘truth commission’ report and part law school exam paper,” the letter said.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)