If Trump really believed he was falsely accused ‘that is not a corrupt motive’ for removing the special counsel: Bill Barr
Special counsel Robert Mueller (left, via AFP/Saul Loeb) and AG nominee William Barr (right, via screengrab).

Attorney General William Barr told Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that if President Donald Trump really and truly thought he was being falsely accused of collaborating with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election, that it was "not a corrupt motive" for firing Robert Mueller, a stunning statement from the nation's highest law enforcement officer.

"As a matter of law, I think the department's position would be that the president can direct the termination or the replacement of a special counsel," said Barr. "And as a matter of law, the obstruction statute does not reach that conduct."

"What makes this case very interesting is that when you take away the fact that no underlying criminal conduct and you take away the fact that there was no inherently malign instructive act," he went on, "that is that the president was carrying out his constitutional duties, the question is what is the impact of taking away the underlying crime?"

"The report suggests one impact is that we have to find some other reason why the president would obstruct the investigation, but there's another impact," Barr said. "If the president is being falsely accused, which the evidence now suggests that the accusations against him were false, and he knew they were false, and he felt that this investigation was unfair, propelled by his political opponents and was hampering his ability to govern, that is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel."

"So that's another reason that we would say that the government would have difficulty proving this beyond a reasonable doubt," he added.

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