Jul 24, 2019

Mueller says Trump could be charged with obstruction after he leaves office

Former special counsel Robert Mueller told Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) at the House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday that President Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office.

The exchange:

  • Buck: "You made the decision on the Russian interference. You couldn't have indicted the president on that, and you made the decision on that. But when it came to obstruction, you threw a bunch of stuff up against the wall to see what would stick."
  • Mueller: "I would not agree to that characterization at all. What we did is provide to the attorney general in the form of a confidential memorandum our understanding of the case. Those cases that were brought, those cases that were declined. And the — that one case where the president cannot be charged with a crime."
  • Buck: "Okay. But could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?"
  • Mueller: "Yes."
  • Buck: "You believe you could charge the president with obstruction of justice after he left office?"
  • Mueller: "Yes."

The big picture: Throughout the hearing, Mueller repeatedly referred to the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel opinion that prevents a sitting president from being indicted. Asked why he continued his investigation after determining that he would be unable to charge Trump, Mueller said that the OLC opinion does not apply once Trump leaves office and that other people involved in potential obstruction could also be indicted.

Go deeper: Live updates: Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill

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Trump calls obstruction a "phony crime" during "Hannity" interview

President Trump called obstruction a "phony crime," alleging without evidence that it was created to target him during an interview on Fox News' "Hannity" on Thursday — the president's first since former special counsel Robert Mueller's House testimony.

"They create this phony crime and then they say he obstructed. They said there was no collusion, but he obstructed. ... The crime was committed on the other side, and we'll find out about it."

Reality check: Mueller told the House Judiciary Commitee that his report does not exonerate Trump on the issue of obstruction, instead citing his office's adherence to the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel opinion that prevents a sitting president from being indicted. Mueller also told the committee that Trump could be charged after he leaves office.

Keep ReadingArrowJul 26, 2019

The 9 big moments from Robert Mueller's House testimony

Robert Mueller prepares to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former special counsel Robert Mueller testified Wednesday in back-to-back sessions before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

The big picture: Mueller — who refused to read directly from the report during his appearances, denied Democrats some of the cinematic wins they'd hoped for — was generally concise with his responses, often asking members to repeat their questions and directing them to refer to the wording in his report.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jul 24, 2019

Mueller tells Congress his report did not exonerate Trump of obstruction

Just minutes into his back-to-back hearings on Capitol Hill, former special counsel Robert Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that his report did not exonerate President Trump of obstruction of justice.

The big picture: Just a half-hour before the hearing began, Trump tweeted, "NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION!" Mueller had previously stated at a press conference in May that he "would have said" if his office was confident the president did not commit a crime.

Go deeperArrowJul 24, 2019