Robert Mueller may not have charged Donald Trump with obstruction of justice, but that hasn’t stopped more than 400 former federal prosecutors from saying what Mueller seemingly wouldn’t: That the only thing saving Trump from “multiple felony charges” is the fact that he is the president.
Explaining that they are “former federal prosecutors” who have “served under both Republican and Democratic administrations at different levels of the federal system,” 415 people agreed in a statement posted Monday that Mueller’s report showed a clear pattern of criminality which, “in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President,” would result in “multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”
The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. These include:
· 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.
The statement was coordinated by the Protect Democracy nonprofit group, and includes signatures from current Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld and assistant Watergate special prosecutor JillWine-Banks. According to the Washington Post, the statement features signatories who have worked for every White House since the Eisenhower administration.
While the statement notably does not have a specific call to action, or proscribe any next steps, it is clear in its diagnosis.
We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment. Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. In our system, every accused person is presumed innocent and it is always the government’s burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice — the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution — runs counter to logic and our experience.
President Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly said that the Mueller report clears him of any wrongdoing. Despite his protestations of innocence, he has worked to prevent Mueller from actually testifying before Congress, where the special counsel would presumably be asked whether he would have brought charges against Trump were it not for the Department of Justice’s policy of not charging a sitting president.