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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