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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

Go deeper

Updated 1 min ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 deaths.
  3. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  4. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  5. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.

Michigan board certifies Biden's win

Poll workers count absentee ballots in Detroit, Michigan on Nov. 4. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified the state's election results on Monday, making President-elect Joe Biden's win there official and granting him the state's 16 electoral votes.

Why it matters: Republican Party leaders had unsuccessfully appealed to delay the official certification, amid the Trump campaign's failed legal challenges in key swing states.

Biden to nominate Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary

Photo: Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to nominate former Fed Chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury Secretary, four people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Yellen, 74, will bring instant economic celebrity to Biden’s team and, if confirmed, she will not only be the first female Treasury Secretary but also the first person to have held all three economic power positions in the federal government: the chair of Council of Economic Advisers, the chair of Federal Reserve and the Treasury Secretary.