BREAKING: DOJ has released the full memo to then Attorney General Bill Barr analyzing why Trump should not be charged with obstruction-of-justice based on the Mueller report. DOJ had fought but lost a @CREWcrew FOIA lawsuit seeking this disclosure.…
2/ Vol II of the Mueller report detailed numerous episode raising potential obstruction of justice concerns. Barr purported to clear Trump of all of them, but never publicly discussed many of them. Here are some of the most important ones from the report:…
/3 An overarching premise is that Mueller did not find evidence sufficient to charge Trump with conspiring with Russia, so there was no underlying crime. (It does not raise the possibility that Mueller failed to get that evidence because his investigation was obstructed.)
4/ The Mueller report strongly suggested that the Mueller team thought Trump dangling a pardon at Manafort to induce him not to cooperate with their investigation met the necessary elements of obstruction.
5/ The Barr memo -- which reads like a defense lawyer's brief -- never mentions pardon dangling and characterizes Trump as merely praising or condemning witnesses based on whether they cooperated with investigators.
6/ The memo argues for interpreting this as Trump not wanting Manafort etc to make up false evidence against him. It again bolsters that by characterizing Mueller's failure to obtain sufficient evidence to charge any conspiracy with Russia as meaning there was none.
7/ Another significant episode was Trump pressuring McGahn to publicly lie and write a memo for the file falsely denying that Trump had pushed him to fire Mueller, both of which McGahn refused to do.
8/ The memo characterizes McGahn's memory of this episode as "ambiguous" and since Trump denied it, says it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
9/ When McGahn testified under oath about that episode before Congress in 2017, he backed the Mueller report's account as accurate.
10/ It also argues it wasn't obstruction when Trump tried to get McGahn to write a memo denying the attempted firing bc McGahn had already told Mueller about it. It doesn't address that a memo contradicting his testimony would undermine his ability to be a witness in any trial.
11/ As for the attempted firing of Mueller itself....
12/ The memo stresses that Trump's aides refused to carry out his orders. While it acknowledges that an unsuccessful attempt to commit a crime is still a criminal act, it argues that since Trump backed down prosecutors could not prove his intent beyond a reasonable doubt.
13/ The memo uses the same rationale to dispose of Trump's unsuccessful attempts to get aides to curtail or gut the Russia investigation, which it conflated with his unsuccessful attempt to have Mueller fired.
14/ As for urging Comey to go easy on Flynn and firing Comey, the memo argues there are explanations for both (e.g., frustration that Comey wouldn't say publicly what he was saying privately) that do not rise to obstruction. The Mueller report also characterized those as murkier.
15/ The memo ends, first, by arguing that "the most compelling interpretation" of Trump's conduct was that he reasonably believe that Mueller's investigation was interfering with his governing agenda.
16/ As a kind of PS, it argues against interpreting obstruction laws as applying to officials with supervisory authority over investigations, which echoes a memo that private citizen Barr wrote for Trump's team in 2018 before he became attorney general.…
Some of this analysis has now been incorporated into this conventional news story:…

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More from @charlie_savage

Aug 12
Trump claims he had declassified all the documents marked as classified that the FBI seized at Mar-a-Lago. Even if that’s true, it probably doesn’t matter.…
Every news outlet in town seemingly already had it, but the search warrant and inventory have now been officially unsealed and docketed. Here they are:…
People are focusing on the Espionage Act, but another law cited in the warrant is intriguing: 18 USC §1519. It's about document crimes that are part of obstructing an investigation or some other federal matter. So what is the thing that DOJ thinks Trump was trying to impede?
Read 4 tweets
Aug 11
This is rank speculation, but when DOJ announces a press conference for a particular time and then is late getting going, it can mean they want something to be unsealed before they talk about it and it is taking longer than they anticipated for the court to do it.
So they were waiting for their motion to unseal the search warrant & related materials to be docketed. That allowed Garland to explain that DOJ wants to say more -- since Trump, who could disclose them, isn't doing so -- but DOJ can't until judge gives permission.
Everyone is all spun up right now but we're unlikely to see anything immediately. The court has to give Trump -- who has chosen not to make this stuff public on his own -- an opportunity to object. If he does, both sides would then file briefs.…
Read 6 tweets
Jul 20
Main point of this story about ISIS detainees in Syria -- a ticking time bomb that is not getting the attention it merits -- is the current plight & likely future threat re the 10s of 1000s of kids languishing in Al Hol. But I want to flag info about adult male ISIS prisoners:/1
When it comes to third-country nationals -- detainees who are neither Syrian nor Iraqi, who make up the bulk of ISIS detainees for obvious reasons -- more and better information is available about the breakdown of wives and children than male "fighters."/2
NGOs don't have a line of sight onto the adult male prisons the way they do at Al Hol. US officials don't want to offend allies who haven't taken back their people but may yet be persuaded to do so. SDF may have similar reasons for discretion./3
Read 5 tweets
Jul 19
I accompanied a military-escorted congressional fact-finding trip organized by @LindseyGrahamSC to look at detention of ISIS men & wives & children operated by a Kurdish-led militia that is the main US partner in northeastern Syria. Story has just posted:…
This is what Al Hol -- the vast camp for refugees and others displaced by war looks like from a helicopter. It is effectively a prison for ISIS wives and children, who are not allowed to leave. About 55,000 people are living there, half under age 12.
The delegation drove up a road between the main camp (for Iraqis and Syrians) and the annex (for third country nationals) and kids came to the fence to look. Here's a boy in a Star Wars shirt. Image
Read 16 tweets
Jun 28
There's been a surge in chatter about inviting abortion clinics to set up shop on federal enclaves -- where state prosecutors lack jurisdiction -- within states where abortion is now illegal, one of the ideas i wrote about here. I'm hearing Biden WH is still very skeptical. /1
One problem, as I wrote, is DOJ has jurisdiction to prosecute (some) state criminal law crimes on federal enclaves. While Garland DOJ would decline to do so, maybe after 2024 there's a Trump II or DeSantis admin that charges people; statute of limitations will not have run./2
Another problem is that an enterprising state prosecutor might charge (non federal employee) people with abortion crimes for conduct off the enclave, like aiding and abetting or conspiring to facilitate an illegal abortion by helping the woman get there or buying supplies etc. /3
Read 5 tweets
May 31
Good morning from the E. Barrett Prettyman federal courthouse in downtown DC. Hope you all had a good Memorial Day weekend. Reporters are reconvening to watch for a verdict in the Sussmann-Durham trial after closing arguments on Friday. /1…
I had thought judge might convene court at 9 a.m. to check in on how the first few hours of deliberations went on Friday afternoon, but the courtroom is empty. Not clear when we'll learn the status of anything but I'll update when something is happening. May be a boring day. /2
A flurry as court convened and lawyers start talking to judge, but no audio in media room so swarm of reporters dash up to the courtroom to catch tail end. The jury had asked to see exhibits 406 and 207, I think. Court adjourns again./3
Read 18 tweets

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