Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller intentionally punted the issue of whether President Trump obstructed justice to Attorney General William Barr.
Mulvaney was asked by ABC’s Jonathan Karl why President Trump continued to claim that the Mueller report cleared him of collusion and obstruction charges.
“That is not what these documents do. When you do an investigation like this there’s typically two outcomes – either criminal indictments come down or it just quietly goes away,” Mulvaney said on “This Week.” “These types of investigations are not designed to exonerate people.”
“What you saw here is simply Mueller saying, ‘You know what? I’m going to let Barr call this one,’” Mulvaney continued. “He had plenty of evidence to say on collusion, ‘Absolutely not,’ and he actually punted over to Barr.”
“Again, that’s the way the system can and does work,” he said.
Karl pointed out that in Barr’s four-page summary of Mueller’s 22-month investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion on the part of Trump or his campaign associates, he quoted a sentence from the special counsel’s report about obstruction.
“While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Barr quoted Mueller in his report last week to Congress.
Barr told lawmakers that he and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that Mueller’s findings were “not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
“That’s why were are absolutely comfortable saying the president has been fully exonerated,” Mulvaney said. “Yes, Mueller does use those words, but those words you would typically find in this type of investigation.”
Barr has said he would release a heavily redacted version of Mueller’s report to Congress by mid-April.