May 30, 2019

Barr: "I personally felt" Mueller could have made a decision on obstruction

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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

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Mass shooting in Milwaukee: What we know

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2012. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

Six people died in a shooting at the Molson Coors Brewing Company in Milwaukee on Wednesday, including the gunman, Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at a Wednesday evening press conference with local police.

Details: All of the victims worked at the brewery complex, as did the shooter who died of "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," police confirmed in a statement late Wednesday.

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Coronavirus updates: South Korea case count tops 2,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,850 people and infected over 83,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

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Syria's darkest chapter

Family room without a family, in Idlib. Photo: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The worst humanitarian crisis of Syria’s brutal civil war is colliding today with what could be the war’s most dangerous geopolitical showdown, after at least 29 Turkish troops were killed in an airstrike.

The big picture: The fighting is taking place in Idlib in northwest Syria, where a ferocious Syrian and Russian offensive has displaced 1 million civilians and infuriated Turkey, which borders the region.

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