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Memo sheds light on decision to clear Trump in Russia probe


August 25, 2022

Michael Reynolds, Pool via Associated Press

Then-Attorney General William Barr at a news conference, Dec. 21, 2020, at the Justice Department in Washington.

WASHINGTON - Justice Department officials who evaluated then-President Donald Trump's actions during the Russia investigation concluded that nothing he did, including firing the FBI director, rose to the level of obstruction of justice and that there was no precedent for a prosecution, according to a memo released Wednesday.

The nine-page memo, prepared for then-Attorney General William Barr by a pair of senior Justice Department officials, offered a legal analysis on whether Trump had criminally obstructed the investigation into potential ties between Russia and his 2016 presidential campaign. Barr agreed with the conclusions of the March 24, 2019, memo and announced that same day that he had concluded that Trump's conduct did not break the law.

Though the decision to clear Trump of obstruction has been well-documented, the newly disclosed memo offers additional details about how two of the department's senior-most leaders arrived at that conclusion. The department's decision was notable because special counsel Robert Mueller, who led the Russia investigation, declined in his 448-page report to decide whether Trump had obstructed justice but pointedly did not absolve him either.


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