Former Acting AG: If Trump Weren’t President, He Would Likely Be Indicted On Obstruction

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Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates says that the only thing keeping President Donald Trump safe from charges of obstruction of justice is the fact that he remains in the office of the presidency, Axios reports. Yates made her remarks Sunday during an appearance on “Meet the Press,” in which she discussed the continuing fallout from the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“I have been a prosecutor for nearly 30 years,” Yates said. “And I can tell you personally I have prosecuted obstruction cases on far, far less evidence than this. And yes, I believe if he were not the president of the United States, he would likely be indicted on obstruction.”

Yates went on to outline the reasoning behind her statement. She pointed out the Mueller clearly and fairly laid out 10 specific and individual instances of credible cases of obstruction of justice by the president. Yates also pointed out that Mueller for individual circumstances offered legal and factual defenses that Trump and his team of attorneys could use to rebut those claims. There were, however, several remaining incidents of potential obstruction where no such defense or justification was provided.

Most notably, Mueller was clear in saying that he would not provide as part of his report a recommendation on whether Trump should be charged with obstruction. But rather than attributing that conclusion to the facts of the investigation, he instead cited a long-standing Office of Legal Counsel opinion which in the minds of many, apparently including Mueller himself, prevents a sitting president from being incited. In saying so, however, Mueller acknowledges that such presidential immunity would no longer be in effect once Trump leaves office.

As has been widely reported, Mueller in his findings states that his investigation, while not definitively finding evidence of obstruction of justice, also does not exonerate the president.

The ten incidents to which Yates referred in her appearance include attempts to shield allies from investigation, attempts to end the Russia investigation, and attempts to remove Mueller as special counsel. In addition, Mueller’s report also suggests that Trump attempted to bury information related to a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between campaign officials and a Russian attorney. Additionally, the president was accused of attempting to misdirect and otherwise influence the congressional testimony of his former lawyer and so-called “fixer,” Michael Cohen, who did indeed provide false statements under oath with respect to that Trump Tower meeting.