During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning with Attorney General William Barr discussing the Mueller Report, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pressed Attorney General Barr about whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice by ordering White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Special Counsel Mueller.
Barr responded that Trump merely ordered McGahn to contact Deputy AG Rosenstein to raise the issue that Mueller has a conflict of interest and that Rosenstein should decide whether that conflict justifies removing Mueller. Barr said that action by the President does not constitute an obstruction of justice. When asked by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to identify the conflict, Barr did not describe it but instead discussed the legal difference between firing a Special Counsel outright and removing him for a conflict to be replaced by another special counsel.
The answer to key question of what was Mueller’s conflict of interest will be answered in a recent FOIA lawsuit filed by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) an organization dedicated to promoting ethics to release a secret two-page memorandum supporting an ethics waiver Special Counsel Robert Mueller received last year.
The ethics waiver was issued on May 18, 2017, the day after Mueller’s appointment on May 17 by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, which in turn was the day after he was interviewed by President Donald J. Trump on May 16, 2017, for the position of the Director of the FBI.
“NLPC calls upon the Attorney General Barr to release the two-page memorandum justifying Mueller’s retroactive ethics waiver as a matter of law and transparency,” said Paul Kamenar, counsel for NLPC. “The Congress and the media should also demand the disclosure of this secret memo,” said Peter Flaherty, Chair of NLPC.