A top prosecutor for former special counsel Robert Mueller claims the team “absolutely” let the country down by not doing enough to investigate President Trump.
“Had we given it our all — had we used all available tools to uncover the truth, undeterred by the onslaught of the president’s unique powers to undermine our efforts?” the man known as Mueller’s “pit bull” wrote in his new book, Where Law Ends, according to an early excerpt published by the Atlantic. “I know the hard answer to that simple question: We could have done more.”
Andrew Weissmann, now an MSNBC analyst who is being scrutinized for wiping data from two government-issued phones while on the Mueller team, told the outlet that the former special counsel “absolutely” let people down. “I wouldn’t phrase it as just Mueller. I would say ‘the office.’ There are a lot of things we did well, and a lot of things we could have done better.” He added that “like Congress, we were guilty of not pressing as hard as we could.”
Weissmann’s book reportedly trashes two major decisions: Mueller choosing not to subpoena Trump to testify and Mueller’s report reaching a decision on whether Trump obstructed justice. The Atlantic wrote that “neither decision holds up to Weissmann’s scrutiny.”
Mueller explained his decision not to issue a Trump subpoena in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in July 2019.
“At the outset, after we took over the investigation and began it, pursued it, quite obviously, one of the things we anticipated wanting to accomplish was having the interview of the president … We negotiated with him for a little over a year,” Mueller said. “Finally, we were almost towards the end of our investigation, and we’d had little success in pushing to get the interview of the president. We decided that we did not want to exercise the subpoena powers because of the necessity of expediting the end of the investigation.” Trump answered questions in writing.
But Weissmann claims in his book that “the explanation that the legal battle would have unduly delayed the inquiry was less than candid, since a subpoena issued at the start of the investigation could have been resolved by the Supreme Court months before the date of the report’s completion,” according to the Atlantic. “Weissmann reveals that the real reason for not compelling the president to be interviewed was Mueller’s aversion to having an explosive confrontation with the White House.”
The former DOJ prosecutor claims in his book that “the specter of our being shut down exerted a kind of destabilizing pull on our decision-making process.”
Mueller’s April 2019 report also said, “We determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes” but laid out 10 possible instances of obstruction by Trump, including aborted efforts to remove Mueller.
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment,” Mueller’s report concluded. “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
“I was flummoxed by Mueller’s thinking,” Weissmann writes in his book, claiming that Mueller was “making his own, freelance judgments about what was appropriate and not delivering on what he was tasked with doing.” Weissmann claims he told the lawyer tasked with drafting the obstruction passage, “When there is insufficient proof of a crime, in volume one, we say it. But when there is sufficient proof, with obstruction, we don’t say it. Who is going to be fooled by that? It’s so obvious.” The former DOJ prosecutor called the passage “a transparent shell game” and “mealymouthed.” He also claimed that “part of the reason the president and his enablers were able to spin the report was that we had left the playing field open for them to do so.”
Attorney General William Barr’s letter, written in March after he received Mueller’s report but prior to its release, said: “The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction.” Barr quoted Mueller’s report as saying that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Barr wrote, “The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime” and that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that it was not sufficient to establish criminality.
Weissmann’s book claims that “Barr had betrayed both friend and country.”
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s December report criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Trump campaign associate Carter Page and for the bureau’s reliance on the Democratic-funded dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.
Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins and the conduct of the Trump-Russia investigation.
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