Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly left Attorney General William Barr and other members of the Justice Department perplexed, The Washington Post reports.
Their confusion stems from Mueller's decision to not reach a conclusion on whether President Trump obstructed justice during Mueller's probe into 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling. In public, Barr — who reportedly considers Mueller a friend — said it was Mueller's "prerogative" to make the call, or lack thereof, on obstruction.
But privately, Barr and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with Mueller's legal theories. In the report, Mueller's team pointed to a long-standing legal opinion at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council, which says that a sitting president should not be indicted. Mueller reportedly concluded that meant they could not accuse the president of a crime and, at times, the report implies that Congress should assume the role of making prosecutorial decisions.
This reportedly surprised Barr who did think Mueller had the authority to make such a decision (Barr eventually came to the conclusion that the evidence did not constitute obstruction.) Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told the Post that it was, indeed, a surprise that Mueller leaned so heavily on the OLC opinion.
"It doesn't make any sense, because on collusion, he seemed to be perfectly empowered to reach a conclusion on whether the president committed a crime," Turley said. "The other problem is that his mandate clearly allowed him to make a decision." Read more at The Washington Post.