- The White House sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr the day after the Mueller report was released, slamming the special counsel’s handling of the obstruction aspect of the Russia investigation.
- White House lawyer Emmet Flood said the special counsel Robert Mueller should have come to a more explicit prosecutorial judgment on the issue of obstruction.
- Flood said Mueller went too far by stating in his report that he did not fully "exonerate" the president, accusing the special counsel of politicizing the process.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
The White House sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr slamming special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the probe into Russian election interference and accusing him of being too "political" in his approach to the obstruction aspect of the inquiry.
The five-page letter, which was written by White House lawyer Emmet Flood, said Mueller’s report "suffers from an extraordinary legal defect." The letter is dated April 19 — a day after Barr released a redacted version of the report — and was released Thursday afternoon.
Flood took particular issue with Mueller stating he did not exonerate Trump, contending this went beyond what the special counsel was tasked to do. He accused Mueller’s team of failing in their "duty" to behave solely as "prosecutors."
Mueller in his report outlined 11 potential instances of obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, but ultimately declined to make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" on the matter.
The special counsel neither concluded Trump committed a crime nor fully exonerated him, and essentially said the ball is now in Congress’s court on the issue of obstruction.
It’s also against Justice Department policy to indict a sitting president, which was part of the special counsel’s reasoning behind declining to make a conclusion on obstruction.
But Flood said Mueller should have made a more explicit judgment on obstruction.
"What prosecutors are supposed to do is complete an investigation and then either ask the grand jury to return an indictment or decline to charge the case," Flood wrote. "Prosecutors simply are not in the business of establishing innocence, any more than they are in the business of ‘exonerating’ investigated persons. In the American justice system, innocence is presumed."
Flood therefore accused Mueller of creating a "prosecutorial curiosity" that’s "part ‘truth commission’ report and part law school exam paper."
"The [special counsel’s] inverted-proof standard & ‘exoneration’ statements can be understood only as political statements, issuing from persons (prosecutors) who in our system of government are rightly expected never to be political in the performance of their duties," Flood said.
The White House lawyer also took issue with the fact some Democrats have called Mueller’s report a "road map" for potential impeachment proceedings.
Flood said the constitutionally-mandated separation of powers means Justice Department officials "should not be in the business of creating ‘road maps’ for the purpose of transmitting them" to congressional committees.
Mueller in his report did make the case that Congress has the authority to investigate and determine whether a president committed obstruction, but did not use the phrase "road map."
A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment on the letter when contacted by INSIDER.
Trump has continuously maintained that he did nothing wrong or illegal, and has said the Mueller report proves there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia as well as no obstruction.
On April 19, the same day Flood sent the letter, Trump tweeted: "No Collusion — No Obstruction!"
- Meet William Barr, the attorney general who Democrats are calling on to resign over the Mueller report
- Attorney General Barr calls Mueller’s letter challenging his summary of the Russia probe report ‘a bit snitty’
- Even as the battle over the Mueller report drags on, the investigation probably won’t hurt Trump in 2020