“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President of the United States did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. … However, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
That was special counsel Robert Mueller’s blunt conclusion about whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. It’s found early in Mueller’s report of his 22-month investigation into potentially criminal aspects of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency.
Mueller’s full report – submitted to the Department of Justice on March 22 and published online with redactions on April 19 – highlights 10 areas in which the president may have committed obstruction of justice. I’ve read this 400-page document closely, and judging as a law professor and former elected official, I find multiple episodes that describe possible crimes.
These include: firing FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing an investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government; attempting to curtail the special counsel’s investigation and fire Mueller; and making statements that could have discouraged former campaign aides from testifying truthfully.
After reviewing all Mueller’s evidence, Attorney General William Barr determined that the president did not obstruct justice. But Mueller concluded that he could neither charge nor exonerate Trump, and indicated that Congress should consider the evidence.
Here’s how lawmakers will determine whether Trump committed a crime.
1. Did Trump act ‘corruptly’?
According to federal law, obstruction occurs when a person tries to impede or influence a trial, investigation or other official proceeding with threats or corrupt intent. Bribing a judge and destroying evidence are classic examples of obstruction.
Source: Did Trump obstruct justice? 5 questions Congress must answer : The Conversation