The Latest: Barr: Mueller could have decided on obstruction
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the special counsel’s Russia investigation (all times local):
Attorney General William Barr says special counsel Robert Mueller could have reached a decision on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.
Barr says in an interview with “CBS This Morning” that though Justice Department rules prevent the indictment of a sitting president, Mueller nonetheless could have decided whether Trump had committed a crime.
The interview excerpt was aired one day after Mueller made his first public remarks on the Russia investigation. In that statement Wednesday, Mueller said it was “not an option” to consider whether Trump had broken the law in light of a long-standing Justice Department legal opinion that presidents cannot be charged.
He says that when Mueller didn’t make a decision, he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that the evidence didn’t support an obstruction charge.
President Donald Trump is muddying the waters over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Trump tweeted early Thursday that “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.” But he later insisted that Russia didn’t help him.
Trump reacted Thursday, a day after special counsel Robert Mueller spoke about his investigation into Russia election meddling and contacts with the Trump presidential campaign.
Mueller found that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and while he said that charging Trump with a crime was “not an option” because of federal rules, he emphasized that he did not exonerate the president.
Trump told reporters Thursday as he departed the White House, “Russia didn’t help me at all.” He said Russia would have preferred that Hillary Clinton be elected, not him.
Trump claimed, “Nobody has been tougher” on Russia “than me.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s first public comments on the Russia probe report have renewed the heated back-and-forth over what the investigation found and didn’t find.
In his remarks Wednesday, Mueller said federal rules prevented him from charging President Donald Trump with a crime, but he noted that he didn’t exonerate the president.
Trump responded by claiming there was insufficient evidence and suggested that he was therefore innocent. He declared, “The case is closed!”
The chairman of the House committee that would undertake any impeachment effort, New York’s Jerrold Nadler, says it falls to Congress to respond to what he contends are crimes, lies and other wrongdoing by Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says “nothing is off the table” and that congressional committees should investigate whether Trump obstructed the investigation.