Tags: Donald Trump | Media Bias | Russia | Russia Probe | barr | democrats | dershowitz

'Mueller Dossier' Is Wrongful Use of Criminal Law

us atty gen william barr being sworn in

Attorney General William Barr is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

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Tuesday, 07 May 2019 11:47 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The Mueller Report — now being called the "Mueller Dossier" by some skeptical of its veracity, continues to roil our politics.

What the Mueller investigation inadvertently reveals, is that the "Russian collusion" story — that Donald Trump was Vladimir Putin’s puppet — was a fabrication by Obama administration intelligence officials, in cooperation with operatives tied to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

When we know all the facts, this will likely amount to the biggest scandal in American history. It's likely that such an operation had to have the approval of the chief executive of the federal government — President Barack Obama.

All we really know at this point is how much we don’t know.

We are now seeing an effort by Democrats and others eager to throw Trump administration officials off the scent, or unscrupulously to tarnish those who have the responsibility for restoring the rule of law to our politics.

This past week’s effort was to smear William Barr, Trump’s attorney general.

Barr has indicated that his Justice Department will seek to determine if, indeed there was wrongful surveillance of and interference with the Trump campaign by Obama administration officials.

The effort to paint Barr as someone who has perjured himself before Congress is as outrageous as the earlier effort to besmirch the reputation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

It's familiar behavior by the unscrupulous left.

One has to wonder when we’ll see accusations of teenage sexual misconduct, or egregious financial misadventures on the attorney general’s part.

If the stakes here were not so high — the contest is for the power and resources of the federal government itself — what the Democrats are attempting would be ludicrous.

Democrats have somehow succeeded, for example, in getting the mainstream media to take seriously the "Mueller Dossier’s" theory of obstruction of justice, which presents the president’s understandable ire at the wrongful assertions against him as criminal.

This is itself a blatant perversion of justice, which even the former Hillary Clinton supporter, retired Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, has acknowledged.

Our criminal laws are, of course, now so complex and contradictory, that a malevolent prosecutor (and Mueller’s team certainly has some) can concoct criminal cases that may well fit within strained construction of the words of some statutes, but clearly misconstrue their spirit or purpose, and which could never ultimately be sustained.

It's telling that one of the theories of prosecution put forth against Arthur Andersen by Mueller’s chief lieutenant, Andrew Weissmann, was rejected 9-0 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That theory was that the firm had committed criminal acts even if it had no criminal intent, though the law in question required such intent.

It was a pyrrhic victory for Arthur Andersen, however.

This was because the prosecution had already ruined the firm’s business, and it never recovered.

Some on Mueller's team may well have sought similarly to ruin President Trump, by suggesting to Democrats that they could use "obstruction of justice" as a means of impeaching and removing him from office.

For Dershowitz, and other objective legal analysts, however, the president’s power as chief executive fully permitted him to engage in the acts the Mueller report characterizes as "obstruction," and especially if those acts were performed in a good faith effort to prevent what the president knew was wrongdoing.

This could hardly constitute "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," it was simply a president attempting to be president and resisting what was, in effect, a coup against him.

Lest this become generally known, however, the Democrats have now sought to manufacture deception on Attorney General Barr’s part, claiming he lied about objections Mueller had made to Barr’s characterization of his report in testimony given before Congress. Barr had then claimed not to know whether Mueller agreed with his interpretation of what constituted "obstruction."

Yet he had earlier received a letter from Mueller indicating that Barr, in his original statement that there had been no collusion with Russia and no obstruction of justice, had failed adequately to set in "context" the extensive findings of Mueller’s Report.

Whatever the meaning of "context," (itself obscure) Mueller’s letter, a confidential communication from Mueller to Barr, was conveniently leaked, probably by some disgruntled staff member of Mueller’s (Weissmann?), on the eve of Barr’s most recent appearance before a Senate committee.

That convenient leak, and the ridiculous stretch to suggest it means that Barr lied, ought to be viewed as yet another part of the outrageous manipulations of the president’s enemies.

Our politics has become a very dirty business, indeed.

In his exasperation at the extraordinary duplicity of the Democratic senators questioning him, Barr, in his Senate hearings, dryly noted that it was time we stopped using criminal prosecution as a political weapon.

Just so.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The Democrats have now sought to manufacture deception on Attorney General Barr’s part, claiming he lied about objections Mueller had made to Barr’s characterization of his report in testimony given before Congress.
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Tuesday, 07 May 2019 11:47 AM
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