Last Sunday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a letter, which he said summarized the report he had received from special counsel Robert Mueller about alleged crimes committed by President Donald Trump. Barr wrote that the president’s exoneration is complete with respect to any conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He also wrote that though Trump will not be prosecuted by the Department of Justice for obstruction of justice, the special counsel did not exonerate him.
This is a head-scratcher.
The head-scratcher is why Barr revealed any ambivalence on the part of anyone in the DOJ on the issue of obstruction of justice when he needn’t have. As well, under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, he shouldn’t have. Those rules, which prohibit the revelation of evidence for and against prosecution of people not actually prosecuted, also prohibit the revelation of the existence of such evidence, as well as any disagreements among prosecutors over the legal significance of the evidence.
The Barr revelation constitutes the same violation of federal rules and DOJ policy that FBI Director James Comey committed when he announced in the summer of 2016 that Hillary Clinton would not be prosecuted for using private email servers to communicate about classified materials and then revealed that the FBI had convincing evidence against her and then revealed what that evidence was.
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