Robert Mueller's report into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016 didn't end with an indictment of President Donald Trump, but it didn't exonerate him either. Now, a group of experts on the matter assert that if Trump weren't president, the report would have contained enough evidence to indict him outright. To understand why, you can read the statement from hundreds of former federal prosecutors arguing that Trump's position as president is the only thing currently protecting him from an indictment for obstruction of justice.
"We are former federal prosecutors. We served under both Republican and Democratic administrations at different levels of the federal system," begins the statement, which was posted to Medium on Monday. It then presents, in simple language, its main thesis:
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.
Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment on the statement.
Specifically, the statement points out three areas in which it claims that the president obstructed justice: "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."
According to The Washington Post, the organization gathering the signatures was the Protect Democracy project. The project's website explains that it was founded by a group of "lawyers who served at the highest levels of the federal government," all working to prevent the country from "sliding toward a modern form of authoritarianism" by "[working] to inform Americans of specific threats to their right to free, fair, and fully-informed self-government."
When The Washington Post's initial report was published, there were over 370 signatories to the statement; that number later climbed past 400. The statement also offers a link for former U.S. attorneys to add their names.
Mueller had dedicated a significant part of his report to the question of whether Trump obstructed justice. In the end, the report pointedly did not offer a resolution to that question. Instead, it explicitly noted that the evidence included did not allow the prosecutors to state "that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice," and it gave Congress the authority to investigate the matter more thoroughly.
Attorney General William Barr, however, released a letter summarizing the report's findings before releasing the report itself, in which he claimed that Mueller's failure to come to a conclusion handed the decision back to him. According to the analysis in his letter, "the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense." But Barr then went on to write that he came to this conclusion "without regard to ... the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president."
As they've made clear in their statement, however, there are now more than 400 former federal prosecutors who disagree with the attorney general.