Kellyanne Conway invokes ‘declination of prosecution’ to claim Trump is exonerated, but...

Kellyanne Conway invokes ‘declination of prosecution’ to claim Trump is exonerated, but a legal expert disputes that

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Douglas Christian asking Kellyanne Conway a question, photo by Jon-Christopher Bua
TMN White House Correspondent Douglas Christian asks Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, about former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III's testimony. (Courtesy: Jon-Christopher Bua)

THE WHITE HOUSE – TMN’s White House Correspondent, Douglas Christian, asked Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, about former Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s testimony Wednesday that his “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election” does not exonerate President Donald Trump.

(AUDIO: Question from TMN about Mueller’s declaration that his report doesn’t exonerate President Trump.)

Conway replied

(AUDIO: Conway raises the issue of declination of prosecution then riffs on innocence until proven guilty…play until she says, “this is clearly a political stunt by people who were using and abusing Director Mueller.”)

TMN asked Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and editor-in-chief of the blog Lawfare, if a declination of prosecution is the legal mechanism Mueller used when he declined to recommend prosecution of the president to Attorney General William Barr.

Wittes said that Mueller had not invoked a declination of prosecution, because Justice Department policy precludes prosecution of a sitting president, but that Mueller had instead declined to make a decision whether prosecution would be warranted. Wittes said that Barr had nonetheless decided to render a decision that no obstruction case would be appropriate.

The report, Wittes said, explicitly says it does not exonerate the president. And when Mueller answered a question from House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) in his testimony before Congress about whether his report exonerated the president, he reaffirmed that finding.

(AUDIO: Mueller – “no, it did not.”)

Doug Christian, The White House

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