MSNBC legal analyst reveals how Mueller’s ‘extraordinary’ letter blows the lid off Barr’s ‘misdeeds’
Chuck Rosenberg (MSNBC)

MSNBC legal analyst Chuck Rosenberg explained why Robert Mueller's letter to the attorney general was so "extraordinary."

The special counsel wrote Attorney General William Barr in late March to complain about the way he "publicized" his investigation's findings, and said his conclusions did not "fully capture" what the probe turned up.

"It is not often in the Department of Justice we go to paper, that we commit in writing our disagreements or our disappointments, particularly with our boss, right?" said Rosenberg, a former U.S. Attorney and former acting director of the Drug Enforcement Agency. "So only when you really feel that there has been sort of a misdeed or misdirection would you go to paper. The fact that Bob Mueller wrote a letter, right, which he must have known would become public someday, to the sitting attorney general, to his boss."

"Mueller is a subordinate, it is remarkable to me," he added. "When we have disagreements, and that happens all the time, how do you typically resolve them? You pick up the phone and you make a call. Maybe Mueller thought that would not be sufficient here, he had to make a record for history."

"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough agreed the letter was extraordinary, saying attorneys wrote letters to one another when they wanted to establish a record -- and force a response.

"For Robert Mueller to write a letter to a guy who has been a friend a long time, whose wives are friends, who is his supervisor, for those who said Robert Mueller did not do enough to complain, in this world, is that not an extraordinary action for him to take?" Scarborough said. "Where he put it there and, as I often said in Congress to my staff members, when you write a letter and put it on somebody's desk, it is a ticking time bomb that they must respond to. Is that not the effect of this letter?"

Rosenberg agreed with the host's conclusion, and said the letter was particularly unusual because Justice Department officials don't usually try to put one another into difficult situations.

"The way we were brought up in the Department of Justice culture is that we are one family," he said. "You don't want to put other members of the family in a box. You try very hard to work things out in a reasonable way, often face-to-face or over the phone. When things get bad, and apparently they did, you put it in writing, so it does land, you know, with a thud on Bill Barr's desk."

Political analyst Mike Barnicle asked whether Volume 2 of Mueller's report laid out at least 10 examples of potential obstruction of justice.

"Yes, although I take one word out -- potential," Rosenberg said. "It is an extraordinarily compelling volume. Those 10 episodes of obstruction are in and of themselves deeply disturbing. I was a federal prosecutor for a long time, I've brought cases in federal court and obtained convictions on a fraction of the evidence Mueller details."

Rosenberg suggested the attorney general was shielding President Donald Trump from prosecution behind Justice Department guidelines against indicting a sitting president, and he faulted Barr and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein for violating the rationale for appointing a special counsel.

"Misled and lied are different," Rosenberg said. "Everybody who lies misleads, but not everyone who misleads lies. I don't know where on that spectrum this stuff fits. The attorney general is better than that, he should neither mislead nor lie. He should adhere to the spirit of this and not to the letter of this, and that's what bothers me. We need more from our public leaders."