Well, let's take a look at what the Mueller actually said about obstruction:
In the hours after the public release of the redacted report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller, President Donald Trump took to Twitter with a message that reads, in part, “NO OBSTRUCTION!”
That’s not at all what the Mueller report says, though.
“Our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations,” Mueller wrote. “The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels. These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.”
Mueller, however, refrained from recommending prosecution, saying that there were “difficult [legal] issues that would need to be resolved,” in order to reach a conclusion that the crime of obstruction of justice was committed by Trump.
Factoring into his decision not to weigh in on prosecution, Mueller wrote, was an opinion issued by the Office of Legal Counsel finding that “the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions” in violation of “the constitutional separation of powers.”
“Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct,” Mueller wrote.
Mueller emphasized, however, that his analysis of the evidence did not clear the president of obstruction. Said Mueller: “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
Mueller noted several complicating factors with respect to determining whether illegal obstruction occurred. For starters, he wrote, “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.” Or, as Trump has repeatedly reminded, the report found “NO COLLUSION” by anyone in the Trump campaign with Russians trying to sway the 2016 election in his favor. But that doesn’t preclude the possibility of obstruction, Mueller said. According to the report, “the evidence does point to a range of other possible personal motives animating the President’s conduct. These include concerns that continued investigation would call into question the legitimacy of his election and potential uncertainty about whether certain events-such as advance notice of WikiLeaks’s release of hacked information or the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians could be seen as criminal activity by the President, his campaign, or his family.”
Nor does the fact that many of the president’s acts occurred in public view — “including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons” — necessarily clear him, the report states.
Mueller report: While it may be more difficult to establish that public-facing acts were motivated by a corrupt intent, the President’s power to influence actions, persons, and events is enhanced by his unique ability to attract attention through use of mass communications. And no principle of law excludes public acts from the scope of obstruction statutes. If the likely effect of the acts is to intimidate witnesses or alter their testimony, the justice system’s integrity is equally threatened.
Mueller noted that it was only the refusal of Trump’s underlings to go along with his efforts to tamper that kept Trump from being able to successfully impede the investigation.
Mueller report: The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests. [Former FBI Director James] Comey did not end the investigation of [Retired Lt. Gen. Michael] Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. [White House counsel Don] McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the Special Counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order. [Former campaign manager Corey] Lewandowski and [Trump campaign official Rick] Dearborn did not deliver the President’s message to Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the Special Counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so. Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction charges against the President’s aides and associates beyond those already filed.
In a press conference just prior to the public release of the redacted Mueller report on April 18, Attorney General William P. Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “disagreed with some of [Mueller’s] legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law.” But he said that based on the evidence and legal framework presented by Mueller, they concluded the investigation did not establish that Trump had committed the criminal offense of obstruction of justice.
During his press conference, Barr claimed that “the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims.”
That’s contradicted in the report. Mueller notes that after Trump learned that his own conduct regarding obstruction was being investigated after appointment of the special counsel, “the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.”
The president was also less than fully cooperative regarding Mueller’s interview requests, the report states.
The special counsel’s office sought an interview with the president for “more than a year,” getting written responses in late November 2018. “[O]n more than 30 occasions” Trump said he “does not ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ or have an ‘independent recollection’” in response to questions, while other answers were “incomplete or imprecise,” the Mueller report says.
The special counsel’s office told the president’s counsel that the written format was inadequate and didn’t give investigators an “opportunity to ask follow-up questions that would ensure complete answers and potentially refresh your client’s recollection.” But the president declined another request for an in-person interview.
Mueller’s team considered a subpoena, but they were concerned with the delay that would cause. Plus, “at that point, our investigation had made significant progress and had produced substantial evidence for our report.”
In any case, Barr’s decision not to pursue charges of obstruction against the president may not be the final word.
Mueller left open the door for congressional consideration of Trump’s conduct. “With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” Mueller wrote.
More at: https://www.factcheck.org/2019/04/what-the-mueller-report-says-about-obstruction/