Fox News’ Chris Wallace thinks that Attorney General Bill Barr should not have been the person to decide whether or not to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice.
Wallace made the assertion on America’s Newsroom on Friday morning. Asked by anchor Sandra Smith for thoughts on the Mueller report after having had 24 hours to digest it, Wallace said “I think the decision…by Bill Barr to make a conclusion on the question of obstruction seems even more troubling, and perhaps even more politically charged when you read the report.”
Wallace explained that he thinks special counsel Robert Mueller did not “make a finding” on whether Trump obstructed justice because he felt it was not up to him to do so. This would seem to be borne out by the very last paragraph of Mueller’s report, which says that the special counsel is not making a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” about the president’s conduct. Mueller further stated that if his office felt the president had definitely not committed obstruction it would say so. Therefore the report, while not concluding that Trump committed a crime, also does not exonerate him.
To Wallace’s mind, this means that Mueller was following Department of Justice guidelines that say a sitting president cannot be indicted. That leaves it up to Congress to hold a president accountable for criminal actions. But instead of leaving it up to Congress, according to Wallace, Barr “decided to interpose himself and make this decision himself…[which] really seems to go against the grain of what Robert Mueller was suggesting in his report.”
In other words, the attorney general took it upon himself to protect the president from prosecution. As a member of the Executive Branch, he usurped Congress’ role in the bedrock of separation of powers on which American government rests.
Congress can still go ahead and do what it wants based on the report, as Wallace observes. But Barr’s decision begins cementing in the public’s mind–and in Trump’s–the idea that the president has been cleared of suspicion of wrongdoing. That makes holding him accountable a steeper hill to climb for Democrats in Congress.
Watch the video of Wallace up top, via Fox News.