CNN Desperately Clings to Their Claims That Trump Obstructed Justice

Moments after first admitting President Trump was “cleared” and “exonerated” Sunday afternoon by Attorney General William Barr’s letter about the Mueller report, then walling it back on CNN Newsroom, the same assembled cast of analysts and journalists insisted that, while there may not have been enough evidence to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice, there was enough for Dems to impeach him. They also threw in some conspiracies about Barr’s motives for good measure.

At the top of the four o’clock hour, the panel couldn’t wrap their heads about the idea that President Trump’s abrasive tweets and comments about the investigation, and the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, didn’t add up to an attempt to obstruct justice. But chief political correspondent Dana Bash was confident it was enough for Democrats to use for impeachment:

There is a very big difference between trying to get enough evidence for a criminal charge, president or not, and making a political determination on Capitol Hill whether or not the House Democrats feel they will get enough information and they will get enough evidence, which they don't need it to be beyond a reasonable doubt, to start impeachment proceedings against the President for obstruction of justice. They have two different very different standards. Very different standards.

The Special Counsel left the decision to prosecute on obstruction to the Department of Justice because of the lack of solid evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Chief political analyst Gloria Borger thought she divined a hidden conflict between the two groups, citing that difference:

Is there a tension there between those two things, between the Special Counsel on the one hand and then the Attorney General saying no? Is that something that Congress would then, sort of, start mining and say, well, why did the Attorney General do this when the Special Counsel couldn't reach an exoneration?

 

 

Senior White House correpsondent Pamela Brown also threw mud on Barr and gave ammo to Democrats by questioning why Barr made the decision not to pursue a prosecution. “He didn't think that the president can obstruct justice,” she reminded them of Barr’s confirmation hearings.

So you can imagine on the hill the Democrats are going to say, ‘the man who said the investigation on obstruction shouldn't have happened in the first place, is now the one deciding, making this conclusion.’ Yes, he did it with Rod Rosenstein, but that's what they're going to hone in on,” Brown hyped.

As if it was purely a signal of guilt, or perhaps a form of obstruction itself, CNN crime and Justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz recalled the negotiations between Trump’s legal team and investigators:

I just want to make one point. Keep in mind, remember when they were going through the questioning of the President, what questions they can ask of the president, what questions the Special Counsel – And they wanted too -- lawyers for the President worked very hard to keep any questions out about the obstruction

And now we understand why. They were legitimately concerned about the obstruction issue,” he declared. “And it seems even reading this report, this is where the Special Counsel's office, that's the position they took as well.

Borger then blamed Trump for Mueller not being about to exonerate him on obstruction: “And it may be the reason. That may be the reason. It says we can't exonerate him, because they didn't talk to him.”

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN Newsroom
March 24, 2019
4:08:14 p.m. Eastern

(…)

DANA BASH: When we were reading as we first got this, the quotes from Barr, the way he distilled the idea of obstruction, saying that Mueller couldn't find beyond a reasonable doubt evidence of the President's intent to obstruct, what he's laying out there is a -- what he needs to have to prove a criminal charge. And we've been saying this for, you know, months now, but this is really, really important now because we're at that point.

There is a very big difference between trying to get enough evidence for a criminal charge, president or not, and making a political determination on Capitol Hill whether or not the House Democrats feel they will get enough information and they will get enough evidence, which they don't need it to be beyond a reasonable doubt, to start impeachment proceedings against the President for obstruction of justice. They have two different very different standards. Very different standards.

(…)

GLORIA BORGER: Let me ask the lawyers a question here, because the Special Counsel decided clearly not to come to a conclusion on obstruction, right. We don't conclude he committed a crime. It doesn't exonerate him. Left it up to Rosenstein and the Attorney General. The Attorney General said, well, we looked at all of this, and we have come to the conclusion not because you can't indict a sitting president, but we have come to the consideration that he shouldn't be prosecuted.

Is there a tension there between those two things, between the Special Counsel on the one hand and then the Attorney General saying no? Is that something that Congress would then, sort of, start mining and say, well, why did the Attorney General do this when the Special Counsel couldn't reach an exoneration?

WOLF BLITZER: Let me add Jeffrey Toobin to weigh in on this specific point. You're reading as closely as anyone.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: I think that's a significant point Gloria raises. The issue of why the obstruction of justice decision was made by the Department of Justice, Bob Barr and Rod Rosenstein, and not by Robert Mueller is not explained in this letter. Why that decision was made by Barr. Now, I think one possible explanation is that Mueller said the magnitude of the decision to indict a sitting president is one that is simply too gray for me, the special counsel. You, the department of justice, have to recognize, you know, all the implications that there are there, including the policy that's been in place since the 1970s that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Therefore, I am turning that decision over to you, main justice.

[Crosstalk]

And the main justice said, in light of the evidence as we saw it, putting aside the whole issue of the policy of the president, whether the president can be indicted, we said it's not -- we don't think it's worth indicting. But that does seem like a pretty close question and worthy of further investigation.

 

PAMELA BROWN: Forget the Bill Barr memo saying that obstruction -- remember, before he was even attorney general, he said he didn't think it was a worthwhile investigation. He didn't think that the president can obstruct justice. So you can imagine on the hill the Democrats are going to say, “the man who said the investigation on obstruction shouldn't have happened in the first place, is now the one deciding, making this conclusion.” Yes, he did it with Rod Rosenstein, but that's what they're going to hone in on.

(…)

BORGER: This is why you're going to see Democrats demanding the underlying documents. When you -- when the special counsel refused to say one way or another, for whatever reason, and maybe it's because he didn't interview the President of the United States. You know, that could be ae reason here. We don't know. That the Democrats are going to now say, we want to see these underlying documents that convinced Rod Rosenstein, whom I will remind everyone the President once tweeted behind bars, remember that, to convince Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein to say no charges here.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ: I just want to make one point. Keep in mind, remember when they were going through the questioning of the President, what questions they can ask of the president, what questions the Special Counsel – And they wanted too -- lawyers for the President worked very hard to keep any questions out about the obstruction.

BORGER: Absolutely.

PROKUPECZ: And now we understand why. They were legitimately concerned about the obstruction issue. They knew on the collusion issue, they felt a little stronger about it. And it seems even reading this report, this is where the Special Counsel's office, that's the position they took as well.

BORGER: And it may be the reason. That may be the reason. It says we can't exonerate him, because they didn't talk to him.

(…)

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