OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
An ethics watchdog has managed to get ahold of a secret memo then-Attorney General William Barr used to make a determination about criminal charges against former President Donald Trump.
“BREAKING: After years of fighting and @CREWcrew’s recent appeals court win, the Department of Justice released the legal memo former AG Bill Barr relied on to say there was no basis to charge Donald Trump with obstruction of justice. And it’s a doozy,” wrote Noah Bookbinder, a former federal corruption prosecutor and president of the left-wing Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), on Twitter.
BREAKING: After years of fighting and @CREWcrew’s recent appeals court win, the Department of Justice released the legal memo former AG Bill Barr relied on to say there was no basis to charge Donald Trump with obstruction of justice. And it’s a doozy. 🧵https://t.co/bUIhGbBdjq
— Noah Bookbinder (@NoahBookbinder) August 24, 2022
A post on the group’s website notes further:
The memo presents a breathtakingly generous view of the law and facts for Donald Trump. It significantly twists the facts and the law to benefit Donald Trump and does not comport with a serious reading of the law of obstruction of justice or the facts as found by Special Counsel Mueller. Among many other problems, it is premised on the fact that there was no underlying criminal conduct, which is not what Mueller found, and waves its hand at there being no exact precedent to compare it to.
The memo supports the chilling conclusion that any president can interfere with any investigation if they believe it could damage them politically. It is clear why Barr did not want the public to see it.
“Mueller found there was not sufficient evidence to charge Trump and others with conspiring with Russia. He didn’t find any crime, just not enough evidence for charges. Of course, Trump couldn’t know about that future conclusion when he decided whether or not to obstruct,” Bookbinder notes in a follow-on tweet.
The March 24, 2019 “memo relies on Trump’s use of open-ended language about his ‘hope’ the investigation would be let go, and his delegation of firing prosecutors or narrowing investigations to others when he could have done it himself, as exonerating Trump,” Bookbinder continued.
“It doesn’t recognize all the cases and real-life experiences that make clear this is how orders often work in the real world, from politics to organized crime,” he added. “The memo is not just wrong; it is dangerous coming from a usually respected office at the Department of Justice. It is clear why Barr did not want the public to see it.”
Previous reports have suggested that the allegation of ‘Russian collusion’ against Trump was a false narrative manufactured by the 2016 campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and in a June interview, Barr appeared to agree, comparing her behavior to “sedition.”
“I thought we were heading into a constitutional crisis. I think whatever you think of Trump, the fact is that the whole Russiagate thing was a grave injustice. It appears to be a dirty political trick that was used first to hobble him and then potentially to drive him from office,” he said on Glenn Beck’s Blaze TV podcast.
“I believe it is seditious,” he added, but he warned that those charges would be tough to prove in court.
“It was a gross injustice, and it hurt the United States in many ways, including what we’re seeing in Ukraine these days. It distorted our foreign policy, and so forth,” the former attorney general said.
He said that he named Special Counsel John Durham to lead the case in private so it would stop President Joe Biden and Attorney general Merrick Garland from interfering with him.
“I was highly confident he would remain in office and they wouldn’t touch him,” he said.
“The Biden administration had no real interest in protecting either Hillary Clinton or Comey,” he argued.
“And at the end of the day, for them to lose the capital and appear to be covering something up that would then never get resolved, I didn’t think was in their interest,” he said. “And I think institutionally that would’ve destroyed the new AG if he had tried that.”