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

Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

Trump dons face mask during Walter Reed visit

Trump wearing a face mask in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump wore a face mask during his Saturday visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to AP.

Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 3,228,884 — Total deaths: 134,600 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,919,421Map.
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