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Attorney General Bill Barr told CBS News in an interview that he "personally felt" special counsel Robert Mueller could have reached a decision on whether or not President Trump obstructed justice, despite the Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

"The opinion says you cannot indict a president while he is in office, but he could've reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity. But he had his reasons for not doing it, which he explained, and I'm not going to argue about those reasons. But when he didn't make a decision, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I felt it was necessary for us as the heads of the department to reach that decision."

Context: On Wednesday, Mueller gave his first on-camera public statement since he was appointed special counsel. He largely reiterated what he wrote in his report, stating: "[U]nder long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited."

  • Mueller added: "The Special Counsel's Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider."

Barr, whose full interview with CBS airs on Friday, also addressed Mueller's claim that ""the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing." Many have viewed that as an implication that Mueller's 400-page report was essentially an impeachment referral.

  • Barr told interviewer Jan Crawford: "I'm not sure what he was suggesting, but the Department of Justice doesn't use our powers of investigating crimes as an adjunct to Congress."

Go deeper: Washington reacts to Mueller's first public statement

Go deeper

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 30,804,120 — Total deaths: 957,348— Total recoveries: 21,062,785Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 6,766,631 — Total deaths: 199,268 — Total recoveries: 2,577,446 — Total tests: 94,211,463Map.
  3. Education: What we overlooked in the switch to remote learning
  4. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  5. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19.
  6. World: Guatemalan president tests positive for COVID-19 — The countries painting their pandemic recoveries green.

What we overlooked in the switch to remote learning

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

America’s rapid and urgent transition to online school has come with a host of unforeseen consequences that are only getting worse as it continues into the fall.

The big picture: The issues range from data privacy to plagiarism, and schools are ill-equipped to deal with them, experts say.

The positions of key GOP senators on replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters on Capitol Hill last Thursday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With President Trump planning to nominate his third Supreme Court justice nominee by next week, key Republican senators are indicating their stance on replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just over six weeks out from Election Day.

The big picture: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has vowed that "Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) told Alaska Public Media, "I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election."