Former federal prosecutors: If Trump wasn't president, he would be guilty of obstruction




 

More than 450 former federal prosecutors signed onto a letter Monday claiming that if Donald Trump was not a sitting president, he would have been found guilty of obstruction of justice from evidence laid out in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

"Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice," according to the letter.

Attorney General William Barr did not push for obstruction charges against Trump after Mueller submitted his report on the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election, where he also laid out evidence of obstruction by the president.

Barr has stood by his characterization and decision not to pursue obstruction charges during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

More: House Judiciary Committee sets Wednesday contempt vote for Attorney General William Barr

House Democrats have also called on Barr to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, in addition to providing Congress with an unredacted version of Mueller's 448-page report. However, Barr has not testified nor submitted the unredacted report, prompting the House committee to begin contempt proceedings against the attorney general as early as Wednesday for his failure to provide the unredacted report.

In the letter, the former federal prosecutors said that the Mueller report "describes multiple efforts by the president to curtail the scope of the Special Counsel's investigation," and pointed to when Trump pressured then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller's investigation. The letter also pointed out that the president directed his then-chief of staff Reince Priebus to fire Sessions, which Priebus refused.

"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," the former prosecutors wrote. "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."

More: Democrats may hold AG Barr in contempt of Congress. What is that and can it actually be used?

Several prominent attorneys signed onto the letter, including Elkan Abramowitz, who is representing American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker. Pecker has in the past supported Trump and AMI has been implicated in a scheme to buy controversial stories involving Trump with the intent of making sure they were not published.

In addition, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who announced he running for president as a Republican in a primary challenge to Trump, also signed onto the letter. Weld was formerly the assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division at the Justice Department.

"We believe strongly that, but for the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report," the letter concludes.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Former federal prosecutors: If Trump wasn't president, he would be guilty of obstruction

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