More than 700 former federal prosecutors have signed a public letter stating their belief that President Donald Trump would have been charged with obstruction of justice were he not president.
The growing list of signatories are from both sides of the political aisle. Some have served as prosecutors for decades. Others are still trying cases for the Department of Justice. And some have risen to the highest ranks of government.
The letter reads, in part:
“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller left the decision to pursue obstruction of justice charges against Trump to Attorney General William Barr. Barr said the evidence Mueller compiled wasn’t enough to prove the president broke the law.
“After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers, the Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Barr said at last month a press conference.
The letter now in circulation disputes Barr’s conclusion:
“The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. These include:
• The President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort;
• The President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and
• The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.”
One former top prosecutor who signed the letter thinks Barr is acting politically.
“For Barr to reach the conclusion he did, it was political. He used the word collusion over and over in that press conference,” said Jim Burns, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District (1993-1997).
“The report shows that Trump had so many attempts obstructing justice,” he added. “When you see how the Mueller report was worded, but for the DOJ policy, Trump would have been charged.”