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Barr sent memo to DOJ about Mueller probe

Former Attorney General William "Bill" Barr, President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Justice Department, reached a decisive and controversial conclusion that Trump's interactions with ex-FBI Director James Comey would not constitute obstruction of justice, according to a copy of a newly released June 2018 memo to senior justice officials.

Posted: Dec 21, 2018 3:49 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2018 4:11 PM

Former Attorney General William "Bill" Barr, President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Justice Department, reached a decisive and controversial conclusion that Trump's interactions with ex-FBI Director James Comey would not constitute obstruction of justice, according to a copy of a newly released June 2018 memo to senior Justice officials.

The fact that Barr weighed in on such a sensitive issue and would be poised to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's work, if confirmed as attorney general, will undoubtedly now thrust his nomination into greater controversy. Barr discussed the memo with Trump and told him it would likely come up during his Senate confirmation, a source familiar with the discussions told CNN.

Barr has not shied away from defending Trump's firing of Comey, but the June 8 memo -- first reported by The Wall Street Journal and provided to lawmakers late Wednesday -- offers a detailed analysis of one of the most consequential episodes of Trump's presidency, concluding that while he's "in the dark about many facts," Mueller's obstruction inquiry was "fatally misconceived." Barr adds that Trump asking Comey to let go of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and later firing Comey were within his powers as head of the executive branch.

"Mueller should not be able to demand that the President submit to an interrogation about alleged obstruction," Barr wrote. "If embraced by the Department, this theory would have potentially disastrous implications, not just for the Presidency, but for the Executive branch as a whole and the Department in particular."

The full repercussions of the President's behavior toward Comey are yet to be resolved, as the matter is still under investigation by Mueller.

Barr's memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, who leads the Office of Legal Counsel, was unsolicited, according to a Justice Department official. The official said Barr had "no non-public information about the Special Counsel's investigation when preparing the memorandum (and still has none)," which he wrote as a "former official" when he was a law firm partner and private citizen. At the time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was still in office, but his job security was always less than rock-solid, as the President regularly lambasted him for stepping aside from the Russia investigation.

"I have admired Bill Barr for decades, and I believe that he will be an outstanding Attorney General," Rosenstein said in a statement Wednesday night. "Many people offer unsolicited advice, directly or through the news media, about legal issues they believe are pending before the Department of Justice. At no time did former Attorney General Barr seek or receive from me any non-public information regarding any ongoing investigation, including the Special Counsel investigation. His memo has had no impact on the investigation."

Barr's memo is sure to draw significant scrutiny now from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill already troubled by his past comments on the special counsel's investigation.

Barr previously wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post entitled, "Trump made the right call on Comey," criticizing the former FBI director for flouting longstanding Justice Department protocols when he announced in July 2016 that he wouldn't recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified info during her time as secretary of state, usurping the role of the attorney general at the time.

"I think it is quite understandable that the administration would not want an FBI director who did not recognize established limits on his powers," he wrote.

Later, Barr called the special counsel's obstruction of justice inquiry "asinine" in a June 2017 interview with the Hill.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
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DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
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Steuben400159
Miami395269
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Jefferson335886
White331953
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Wells295281
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Fayette284864
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Scott270156
Clay267148
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Starke228058
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Owen211858
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Jay200932
Carroll193620
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Franklin170335
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Blackford136232
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Brown104243
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Martin91715
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Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108736

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287201467
Cuyahoga1157922211
Hamilton813971250
Montgomery525481043
Summit484271001
Lucas43353820
Butler39013606
Stark33332929
Lorain25672505
Warren24591303
Mahoning22370603
Lake21207388
Clermont20117253
Delaware18852136
Licking16662222
Fairfield16574204
Trumbull16548482
Medina15610271
Greene15281248
Clark14237306
Wood13292200
Portage13251215
Allen11913239
Richland11605211
Miami10849225
Wayne9141223
Columbiana9032230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8663122
Tuscarawas8649250
Marion8642138
Erie8056165
Ashtabula7160179
Hancock6998132
Ross6944161
Geauga6838151
Scioto6534106
Belmont6157174
Union584549
Lawrence5731102
Jefferson5678158
Huron5546122
Sandusky5442126
Darke5420129
Seneca5348128
Washington5319109
Athens523960
Auglaize502187
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4571112
Madison444266
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432074
Crawford4037110
Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3855105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359665
Williams348278
Champaign344759
Guernsey324953
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin275265
Henry273467
Holmes2701101
Coshocton269060
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240650
Wyandot234556
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148440
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
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