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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders faced some tough questions on Monday about her claim that President Trump has been totally exonerated on obstruction of justice.
Sanders was interviewed on Today the morning after Attorney General William Barr released his summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The White House has called the findings a complete exoneration, but while the summary does say Mueller found no evidence of collusion with Russia, Mueller specifically says Trump is not exonerated on obstruction and that he was leaving this determination to the attorney general. It was Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who subsequently determined there was insufficient evidence to show Trump obstructed justice.
Today's Savannah Guthrie made this point during her interview with Sanders on Monday, asking her, "Would you acknowledge it is incorrect for the president to call this a total exoneration?" Sanders' response? "Not at all. It is. It is a complete and total exoneration."
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Sanders' basic argument was that Trump is still exonerated based on Barr and Rosenstein's conclusions, which resulted from evidence obtained by Mueller, even if Mueller himself did not make a determination either way. Guthrie raised some criticism that has been leveled at Barr, namely that he made his determination on obstruction in 48 hours after having previously said there was no obstruction of justice case against Trump, suggesting perhaps he made a "snap judgment."
"It's not a snap judgment," Sanders responded. She went on to say that "in the legal commnunity, when you can't convict somebody on something, you're exonerating them." Guthrie objected to this idea, responding, "You're not." Watch the exchange below. Brendan Morrow