According to the investigation report on the Russia affair, US President Donald Trump has at times tried to remove special investigator Robert Mueller from office. One month after Mueller's appointment in May 2017, Trump has instructed his former legal advisor, Don McGahn, to persuade the Ministry of Justice to dismiss Mueller, according to the special investigator's final report published on Thursday. The process now described by Mueller nourishes the suspicion that the US president may have been guilty of attempting to obstruct the law.
At a press conference shortly before the release of the report, US Attorney General William Barr vehemently defended President Donald Trump's conduct in the Russia affair, dismissing allegations of bias.
Mueller has found no evidence of collusion between Trump and his election camp with representatives of Russia, Barr repeatedly stressed. He acknowledged that Trump's lawyer had previously been given access to the report he was working on. The White House had caused no blackening. Overall, Trump and his team had been highly cooperative in the investigation. The president could not be subject to any unfair motives.
The Democrats had accused Barr of bias and partiality in dealing with the sensitive report over the past few weeks and demanded the report's complete – and unblinded – release. The Department of Justice published the edited report shortly after Barr's appearance. The blackening is limited to the legally necessary, the minister said. A group of senior members of Congress would also have the opportunity to read the report largely without blackening, with the exception of certain court information that would need to remain confidential.
Minister of Justice defends Trump
For almost two years, Mueller had been investigating Trump's election campaign camp for collusion with Russian officials and Trump's obstructing the judiciary. Barr had sent his own four-page summary of Mueller's final report to Congress on March 24. Accordingly, Mueller came to the conclusion that there was no evidence of collusion by Trump's team with Russia. On the question of whether Trump has obstructed the judiciary, Mueller met according to Barr's short version, however, no commitment, but provided evidence for and against. On the basis of these indications, Barr came to the conclusion that the President should not be accused of criminal charges on this point either.
Barr said Thursday that Mueller's report lists ten episodes in which Trump may have obstructed the judiciary. He and his deputy Rod Rosenstein were of the opinion that some of the episodes did not legally constitute a hindrance to the judiciary. At the same time he campaigned for understanding Trump's behavior and explained in passing that the president had no intention of unfair intentions.
The president was in an “unprecedented” situation, Barr said. “When he took office and wanted to assume his responsibilities as president, investigators and prosecutors investigated his behavior before and after he took office, as well as the actions of some of his staff.” At the same time, there was constant media speculation about Trump's personal guilt. Mueller's report shows that Trump was “frustrated and angry” about the investigation undermining his presidency. Nevertheless, the White House cooperated fully with Mueller and gave full access to documents.
Regardless of whether Trump's actions could have constituted a hindrance to the judiciary, this is clear evidence that the president has not pursued any unfair motives, Barr said.
Criticism from the Democrats
With these remarks on Trump's emotional and motivic situation, Barr is likely to attract further criticism from the Democrats, who have been accusing him for weeks of acting more like a lawyer for the president than an independent Minister of Justice of the country. Among other things, the Democrats complained that the minister was trying to gain the right to interpret the results of the investigation – either through his summary or through his press appearance shortly before the report was published.
Democrats in the House and in the Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, spoke on Thursday about a serious crisis of confidence. The only way to restore public confidence in dealing with the Russia investigation was a public statement Mueller in both chambers of Congress. “The American people deserve to hear the truth.”
Barr, who reports to Mueller, said he has no objection to a statement by the special investigator before Congress. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his council would start a hearing with Mueller as soon as possible.
Trump had seen himself relieved in all aspects of the release of Barr's summary, and repeated this with regularity. Shortly after Barr's press conference Trump posted on Twitter a picture in the style of a movie poster. He can be seen from behind himself. The words: “No collusion, no disability” and the slogan: “Game over”.
Shortly thereafter, at a meeting with veterans in the White House, he said he had a good day. There were no collusion with Russia and no obstruction of justice. (AP)