Explainer: Why an obstruction case against Trump was so difficult

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 25, 2019 - Duration: 01:41s

Explainer: Why an obstruction case against Trump was so difficult

U.S. Attorney General William Barr's conclusion that President Donald Trump did not obstruct justice, revealed publicly on Sunday in a letter to lawmakers, reflects inherent difficulties in proving such an obstruction case, legal experts said.

Ryan Brooks reports.


Explainer: Why an obstruction case against Trump was so difficult

Robert Mueller's report over his two-year investigation concluded Donald Trump's 2016 campaign did not collude with Russia.

However, the question of obstruction - whether or not Trump tried to impede the Russia probe - was handed over to Attorney General William Barr.

In a letter to Congress, Barr concluded that Trump did not.

But legal experts say proving such an obstruction case is difficult.

Reuters' Jan Wolfe is in Washington.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT JAN WOLFE SAYING: "In a classic obstruction of justice case, you're trying to cover up some wrongful act.

And Barr said in his letter, well, there's a determination here that there was no collusion between the campaign and Russia.

So there was no wrongful act to cover up.

And to him that undermined the obstruction of justice case.

There was no real nexus between obstruction and some underlying crime.

And obstruction of justice cases are always kind of tricky.

You need to show 'corrupt intent.'

And in general, it's a very difficult process to go in somebody's head, and try to decipher, 'why did they do what they did.'

If Trump fired James Comey because he thought the guy was a showboat, valid reason, he can do that.

If Trump fired James Comey because he trying to protect himself and his family, not so valid, potentially obstruction of justice.

But that's a really difficult determination to make.

Trump has long denied allegations of Russian collusion and he has repeatedly called the investigation a witch hunt.

Congress could pick up the inquiry into obstruction.

With Democrats in control of the House, they have investigatory powers and can serve subpoenas.

On Sunday Democratic lawmakers urged the full Mueller report be released.

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