Fox News reports that the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday released a memorandum from 2019 in which the agency explained why then-President Donald Trump ought not to be prosecuted for obstruction of justice for comments that he made against the Russia-Trump collusion investigation.
The nine-page memo was sent by the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to then-Attorney General Bill Bar.
The OLC is the attorney general’s chief legal adviser. The memo was specifically written by Steven Engel, the assistant attorney general for the OLC, and Edward O’Callaghan, the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General.
The memo was sent on March 24, 2019, after special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia-Trump collusion investigation.
The overall conclusion of the memo was that, in the OLC’s view, the DOJ ought not to prosecute Trump for the objection of justice.
“Having reviewed the Report in light of the governing legal principles, and the Principles of Federal Prosecution, we conclude that none of those instances would warrant a prosecution for obstruction of justice, without regard to the constitutional constraint on bringing such an action against a sitting president,” the memo reads.
Part of the reason why the OLC recommended against prosecuting Trump is that the attacks by Trump on Mueller’s Russia investigation were motivated by a legitimate frustration.
Another reason is that, in the OLC’s estimation, Trump could not be prosecuted for his statements by the DOJ without the DOJ intruding on the president’s Constitutionally-granted authority over the executive branch.
“In addition, we believe that certain of the conduct examined by the Special Counsel could not, as a matter of law, support an obstruction charge under the circumstances,” the memo reads. “Accordingly, were there no constitutional barrier, we would recommend, under the Principles of Federal Prosecution, that you decline to commence such a prosecution.”
If the DOJ had its way, no doubt, this memo would never have seen the light of day. But, last week, a federal appeals court, at the request of the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), ordered the DOJ to release it. It was a bit of a backfire for CREW, which was hoping that the memo would show evidence of a scheme to protect Trump from prosecution.
The DOJ complied with the order by releasing the memo on Wednesday.
Trump, at the time of this writing, has yet to put out a statement on the matter.