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Here’s why Robert Mueller hasn’t charged Donald Trump with obstruction of justice — yet

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President Donald Trump’s request to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shut down the Russia probe may seem like a clear-cut case of obstruction of justice — but to special counsel Robert Mueller, it’s just part of a bigger picture.

Sources said Wednesday that the president wants to speak with Mueller, against his lawyers’ advice.

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During a Thursday discussion, CNN legal analysts began by explaining that if the Trump team thinks it can get away with sending written statements in lieu of a live interview, it has another think coming. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti called such answers “essentially useless” because they’ve been pre-digested by attorneys.

“One thing they really need to put a bow on is there intent here,” said Laura Coates. “We can all surmise and guess about whether or not the president’s contextual clues, about the perceived witch hunt.”

She explained that Mueller needs to know if Trump had “the corrupt intent to impede or influence or undermine this investigation.” That option is instead of the “much harder standard of circumstantial evidence, meaning that contextual evidence of everything.” Mueller would likely be more inclined to want to “hear it from the horse’s mouth.”

“You have the opportunity to question the president; you need to be able to assess their credibility,” she said. “Look them in the eyes, have a gut reaction, and compare it to what they have already written.”

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She noted that Rudy Giuliani seems so concerned about a so-called “perjury trap.” However, if they put together a written statement, it puts Trump in a position to have to verify all of those claims his lawyers outlined.

Mariotti outlined the circumstantial evidence. However, he now believes that he has seen all of the evidence needed to justify an obstruction charge.

“All of the evidence that we have seen of the president’s intent, not only the firing of [former FBI director] James Comey, pressuring the attorney general to recuse himself, telling [White House counsel] Don McGann to fire Robert Mueller at one point, and just all sorts of statements by the president, angry about the existence of this investigation, and very much desiring to help Michael Flynn and others.”

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He explained that there is a variety of evidence that shows the president’s “intent” was to undermine the investigation before his tweets were even part of the equation.

Trump has made the argument in the past that it is under his purview to fire whomever he wishes, but Mariotti explained just as he can’t fire someone for their race or religion, it’s to fire someone to impede an investigation. In the case of Comey, Trump had deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein justify the firing, but then later said it wasn’t the actual reason he did it.

Coates said that when people are arguing about the “form and not the substance of what you’re doing, you’re playing a losing plan’s game.”

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Ultimately, Coates explained that no prosecutor would let the investigation conclude merely because he or she found proof of obstruction of justice. She surmised that Mueller is merely continuing the investigation in its entirety.

Asha Rangappa explained in a later segment that a single tweet couldn’t be used to charge obstruction of justice. Instead, it is part of a more extensive collection of evidence for the investigation.

Watch the full conversation below:

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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2020 Election

He’s trying ‘to get under Trump’s skin’: Reporter Olivia Nuzzi outlines Joe Walsh’s impact on 2020

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Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton explained during an MSNBC panel discussion that former Rep. Joe Walsh isn't likely to peel away many voters from Trump as someone who is "Trump-light." New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi, however, thinks Walsh with have a more significant impact, whether or not he can win the primary race.

During a CNN panel discussion, Nuzzi similarly noted that Walsh's primary purpose could be to troll the president.

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CNN

Boris Johnson ‘tremendously humiliated’ Donald Trump on a global scale at G-7 meeting: CNN analyst

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United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of President Donald Trump's favorite people to take over for Theresa May when she resigned this summer. But Johnson also mocked the U.S. president and humiliated him on a global scale, said New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi.

During a panel discussion on CNN Sunday, CNN's Ryan Lizza opened by saying that Johnson is in a tight spot as he's trying to negotiate Brexit while serving as an international leader to the G-7. Johnson also needs to negotiate a trade deal with Trump, but he clearly is going about it in the worst possible way.

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CNN

‘That’s total nonsense’: Bill Kristol punches Santorum right between the eyes on Trump’s failing trade policy

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CNN contributor Rick Santorum said he was personally offended on Sunday after conservative writer Bill Kristol attacked President Donald Trump's trade policy.

During a segment about Trump's trade war with China, Kristol noted that the president seems "demoralized" and "depressed."

"His economists have told him privately we're slowing down and we're at some risk of toppling into a recession," Kristol explained. "His political people have told him his numbers are going down not up."

The conservative writer pointed to Trump's racist attacks on black lawmakers as one mistake he has made.

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