Attorney General Bill Barr said Thursday, in a somewhat bizarre turn of phrase, that he’d heard after-the-fact that special counsel Robert Mueller considered it Barr’s prerogative to announce that President Donald Trump had not committed criminal obstruction of justice, even though Barr and Mueller never discussed the issue.
Mueller made no determination in his final report on whether Trump had obstructed justice, but when Barr released a four-page summary of the report some weeks ago, Barr said that he’d decided Trump hadn’t
Referring to that decision, Barr said in a press conference Thursday: “We use that compulsory [grand jury] process for the purpose of making that decision. And because the special counsel did not make that decision, we felt the department had to. That was a decision by me and the deputy attorney general.”
ABC News’ Pierre Thomas pressed Barr on that decision, and specifically whether Mueller was on board with it.
“Did the special counsel indicate that he wanted you to make the decision or that it should be left for Congress?” Thomas asked.
In short, no, Barr said, before quickly implying that he’d heard Mueller was fine with Barr’s making the decision on his own.
“Well, special counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress,” Barr said. “I hope that was not his view, since we don’t convene grand juries and conduct criminal investigations for that purpose.”
“I didn’t talk to him directly about the fact that we were making the decision, but I am told that his reaction to that was that it was my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision.”
Barr: "I hope" that Mueller didn't want Congress to make the obstruction of justice determination. "I am told that his reaction to that was that it was my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision." pic.twitter.com/g3OvYuywjc
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) April 18, 2019