Why mention the OLC guidance at all?
That is the question for now-former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, left hanging by the statement his office jointly issued with Justice Department flacks on Wednesday, clarifying (as it were) remarks he had made hours earlier at his parting-shot press conference.
At issue is Mueller’s decision to punt on the question of whether President Trump should be indicted for obstruction of justice. In his startling remarks, Mueller sought to justify himself by citing instruction from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The longstanding OLC opinion, an outgrowth of Nixon- and Clinton-era scandals, holds that a sitting president may not be indicted. The two press offices were struggling to reconcile (a) Mueller’s pointed reliance on this OLC guidance at the presser with (b) his prior disclaimers of such reliance.
According to Attorney General William Barr, in a meeting over two weeks before Mueller submitted his final report, the special counsel emphatically denied that his refusal to render a prosecutorial judgment on obstruction hinged on the OLC guidance. Naturally, in their continuing quest to frame Barr as the most diabolical villain since Lex Luthor, the media-Democrat complex insisted that the AG must be lying.
This is what derangement will do to you. I do not think Mueller’s contradictory assertions are that hard to figure out. But if you were inclined to blame sleight of hand, the culprit would be Mueller. You’ll notice that when we finally heard from him on Wednesday, he lauded Barr’s good faith, never claiming that the AG had misrepresented him. Moreover, the conversation between them on the OLC guidance was not a one-on-one affair. There were other people in the room when Mueller denied that the OLC guidance was his rationale for abdicating.