In a letter released Thursday, the nonpartisan legal advocacy nonprofit, Free Speech For People, urges the Department to prosecute criminal offenses identified in the Mueller report, citing “disturbing precedent” set by the Department’s refusal to prosecute these crimes since Trump left office. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 17, 2022) – Free Speech For People today issued a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice, calling for action on multiple counts of obstruction of justice committed by former President Trump. The letter takes issue with the Department’s handling of findings from the Mueller report in 2019, especially in contrast with the subsequent investigation led by Trump-backed Special Counsel John Durham.

The Mueller report found “substantial evidence” that President Trump had attempted to obstruct justice as the investigation into Russia’s election interference in 2016 and coordination with the Trump campaign was underway. Examples include firing former FBI Director James Comey, attempting to fire Mueller and curtail the investigation, and encouraging his associates not to cooperate with the government. In declining to prosecute Trump for these crimes, Mueller relied on a controversial Department policy that a sitting president cannot be charged with a federal crime while in office. But as Mueller himself noted, that policy does not apply after the president leaves office and Trump may now be prosecuted for the obstruction of justice offenses identified in Mueller’s report. Yet Attorney General Garland has yet to take any discernible action with respect to the evidence presented in the Mueller report.

Meanwhile, the letter describes the recent investigation by Special Counsel John Durham as “one of the most corrupt and politically-motivated investigations in Department history.” Durham’s investigation, ordered by former Attorney General William Barr, seeks to discredit persons who provided evidence in connection with the original inquiry into Russian election interference. Durham has failed to find any evidence warranting a conviction in the past three years. Two individuals, an attorney and an analyst, were prosecuted and later acquitted on all charges due to insufficient evidence.

In other words, the Mueller investigation found that Trump had obstructed justice in attempting to block the Russia inquiry–but the Department has taken no action on those findings, while allowing the Durham investigation into the Russia inquiry to continue for three years on fruitless and abusive investigations and prosecutions. 

Noting the stark contrast in the Department of Justice’s actions in these two investigations, Free Speech For People remarked:

“The Department’s approach sets a disturbing precedent. Now, any president of the United States can commit federal crimes, including obstruction of justice, and (1) enjoy complete immunity against prosecution during his term in office (by virtue of official Department policy), (2) enjoy complete immunity from prosecution after he has left office (by dint of the precedent that you are now setting); and (3) ‘investigate the investigators’ with flawed prosecutions, based on ‘speaking indictments’ consisting largely of irrelevant and inadmissible material intended for political showmanship purposes.”

“Mueller identified multiple instances where Trump obstructed justice, but he felt constrained by Department policy regarding prosecuting a sitting president. Well, Trump isn’t a sitting president anymore,” said Ron Fein, Legal Director for Free Speech For People. “The Department’s response to these investigations effectively makes it riskier to tell the government truthfully that the president may have been connected to a crime than it is to be the president who actually committed a crime.”

As the letter notes, some of the instances of obstruction of justice cited in the Mueller report have reached their statute of limitations, but many remain actionable and are backed by substantial evidence. The letter also notes that Trump’s recent announcement that he intends to run for president in 2024 is no reason to decline prosecution of these obstruction of justice charges, nor to assign them to yet another special counsel. 

“The American public spent nearly two years waiting for Special Counsel Mueller to release his findings, and those findings detailed how Donald Trump sought to obstruct his investigation at nearly every turn,” said John Bonifaz, President of Free Speech For People. “It would be inexcusable for Trump not to be held accountable for the obstruction of justice that he committed to undermine the Mueller investigation. Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice have a responsibility to act on the evidence in their possession and file charges against Donald Trump as a private citizen.”

“American democracy is undergoing a crisis of confidence, in no small part due to corrupt and unlawful actions taken and directed by Trump, coupled with a public fear that Trump and his associates will not be held accountable for illegally attempting to subvert our democracy and government. The lack of accountability during his presidency led Trump and his allies to take even more drastic steps to undermine our democracy, including the effort to falsify election results in Georgia and the insurrectionist attempt to block the peaceful transfer of power on January 6th, 2021,” said Ben Clements, Free Speech For People Chairman and Senior Legal Advisor, and a former federal prosecutor.  “To preserve the rule of law and the future of our democracy, the Justice Department must take action to hold Trump accountable for these clearly established federal crimes.” 


Read the letter here.