A former acting solicitor general of the United States accused Attorney General William Barr on Sunday of a rush to judgment in determining that he will not consider obstruction of justice charges against President Donald Trump.
The move will spark suspicions of a “whitewash,” Neal Katyal told Katie Tur on MSNBC.
Barr released a letter to Congress on Sunday in which he said that special counsel Robert Mueller cleared the Trump campaign of criminal collusion with Russia, but that Mueller’s report does “not exonerate” the president of obstruction of justice. However, less than 48 hours after Mueller submitted his report to the Justice Department, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein took it upon themselves to decide that prosecutors would not press obstruction charges against Trump.
Katyal said Barr should have taken more time and consideration to reach such a decision — and should have interviewed Trump before he did so.
Mueller “after two years of investigation doesn’t draw conclusion one way or the other on obstruction of justice — he says there’s evidence on both sides — and then you have Attorney General Barr within 48 hours of receiving this saying: ‘I conclude that the evidence isn’t there ... there’s not evidence of Trump’s intent,’” Katyal told MSNBC.
“How the heck does he determine [that] in 48 hours after a two-year investigation and particularly without even trying to interview Trump?” he asked. “If the whole question is Trump’s state of mind, I would expect any reasonable prosecutor to try and get that information.”
Barr’s lightning-fast decision means “there’s going to be a fear among the American public that there’s been a whitewash here.”
Katyal said he “really wanted” to trust Barr and Rosenstein, “but quite honestly this letter causes me much more concern — grave concerns.”
Listen to the interview in the video above.