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More than 650 former federal prosecutors have signed onto a statement asserting that if the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) did not prohibit a sitting president from being indicted, President Trump would be charged with obstruction of justice.
Why it matters: Special counsel Robert Mueller laid out extensive evidence of possible obstruction by Trump in volume 2 of his report, though he ultimately opted not to make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" in part because of the OLC opinion. Attorney General Bill Barr's decision to clear Trump of obstruction has drawn the ire of many Democrats and former prosecutors who believe he is acting as the president's personal lawyer, rather than the country's top law enforcement official.
The statement is signed by more than 20 former U.S. attorneys and more than 100 career Justice Department officials who worked in every administration dating back to President Eisenhower. It cites a number of episodes Mueller detailed in his report as "acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge" — meaning obstructive conduct and "corrupt intent." Specifically, the prosecutors point to:
- "The President's efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort;
- The President's efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and
- The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign."