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Trump obstruction evidence stronger than AG Barr suggested, some Mueller team members claim

Key Points
  • Some people who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation believe evidence that President Donald Trump tried to impede the probe is stronger than what Attorney General William Barr publicly suggested when he cleared Trump of obstructing justice, NBC News reported.
  • Prosecutors and FBI agents in Mueller's office could not agree on whether Trump illegally obstructed the investigation, according to NBC.
  • Mueller submitted his final report to Barr on March 22. Congressional Democrats have insisted on seeing the full, unredacted report, and have threatened to subpoena its nearly 400 pages if Barr does not release it to Congress soon.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs St. John's Episcopal Church, across from the White House, after attending morning services, in Washington, Sunday, March 24, 2019.
Cliff Owen | AP

Some people who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation believe evidence that President Donald Trump tried to impede the probe is stronger than what Attorney General William Barr publicly suggested when he cleared Trump of obstructing justice, NBC News reported Thursday.

NBC News said Mueller's team has told a government official that there is compelling evidence of obstruction by Trump that has not yet been made public.

But three government officials who spoke with NBC News have said that Mueller's decision to not state in his final report to Barr his belief on whether or not Trump obstructed justice stemmed in part from a split in the special counsel's office over the evidence and law.

NBC News reported that prosecutors and FBI agents in the office could not agree on whether Trump's illegally obstructed the investigation.

The New York Times first reported on Wednesday evening that some Mueller investigators have told associates that Barr's summary of the special counsel's findings understated the results. Trump on Thursday slammed the Times' report in a tweet, saying the paper "had no legitimate sources."

Mueller submitted his final report to Barr on March 22. Congressional Democrats have insisted on seeing the full, unredacted report, and have threatened to subpoena its nearly 400 pages if Barr does not release it to Congress soon.

"The Department continues to work with the Special Counsel on appropriate redactions to the report so that it can be released to Congress and the public," a Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday.

Two days after the special counsel gave him the report, Barr publicly issued a summary of Mueller's findings. The special counsel concluded that there was no evidence that Trump's presidential campaign colluded with Russian agents to interfere with the 2016 election.

Barr also said that Mueller had deferred to the attorney general on the question of whether Trump — who has blasted Mueller's probe for the past two years — obstructed justice through various means in an effort to thwart the investigation. Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that the president did not obstruct justice.

However, Barr's summary did note that, "The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'"

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters on Thursday "that the fact that there are people who have participated for the last two years in running a report and now believe that that report is being mischaracterized or under-characterized in terms of what it has to say is further compelling reasons why the report needs to be fully released to the American public and to the Congress of the United States."