A CNN legal analyst claimed that President Donald Trump’s frustration with the years-long investigation that culminated with no evidence establishing collusion between his campaign and Russia was “evidence of guilt.”
“Happy people don’t obstruct justice. Trump’s frustration at leaks and investigation are evidence of guilt, not innocence,” Jeffrey Toobin, the legal analyst and a writer for the openly left New Yorker magazine, wrote on Twitter on April 18.
Toobin’s claim came after Attorney General William Barr held a press conference explaining how special counsel Robert Mueller’s report included information about how frustrated the president was at the lengthy investigation.
“As the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks,” Barr said.
Nevertheless, Trump cooperated with Mueller and asserted no privilege claims to block Mueller’s team from any evidence.
With Trump’s opposition pivoting from collusion claims to obstruction claims, Barr noted that Trump’s cooperation with the probe despite his frustration with the “unprecedented situation” signaled that Trump didn’t obstruct.
“This evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation,” he said.
Expanding on his thoughts during a segment on CNN, Toobin said: “Particularly about the issue of intent. You know, did the president intend to obstruct justice. And the most extraordinary paragraph about the attorney general’s statement is the sort of ‘woe is me’ problem that the president, there were leaks, there were people around, he was frustrated. That was evidence of guilt, that’s not evidence of innocence. Happy people don’t obstruct justice.”
National Review editor Charles Cooke was among those responding to Toobin’s claim.
“’Frustration at being investigated, and about that investigation yielding leaks, is evidence of guilt’ is not a standard for which anyone who wants to live in a free country should wish,” Cooke wrote on Twitter.
“Frustration at being investigated, and about that investigation yielding leaks, is evidence of guilt” is not a standard for which anyone who wants to live in a free country should wish.
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) April 18, 2019
Toobin said in late March that Mueller’s failure to establish any links between Trump or Trump’s campaign and Russia vindicated Trump.
Other analysts and journalists also weighed in on the “frustration” issue.
“As a legal matter, does sincere frustration with being investigated excuse conduct that might otherwise be indictable?” wrote Sahil Kapur, a reporter for Bloomberg.
“Barr seems to have set a new legal standard for a president who is frustrated with an investigation into his conduct,” claimed Jim Acosta of CNN. “Anger and frustration can now be the basis for lashing out at a probe of alleged wrongdoing in the White House.”
“Whether obstruction is chargeable derives from the state of mind of the person alleged to have committed obstruction,” wrote independent journalist Michael Tracey. “So if Trump was motivated by frustration with his inability to govern (rather than a corrupt desire to cover up a criminal conspiracy) that’s directly relevant.”
Whether obstruction is chargeable derives from the state of mind of the person alleged to have committed obstruction. So if Trump was motivated by frustration with his inability to govern (rather than a corrupt desire to cover up a criminal conspiracy) that’s directly relevant
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) April 18, 2019
“Left is losing its wig that Barr addressed presidential intent and state of mind (frustration),” wrote Kimberley Strassel, a conservative columnist at the Wall Street Journal. “But of course intent matters (there was no crime to cover up), and Barr says was Mueller who brought up Trump’s frustration and sincere belief this was undermining presidency.”
“Barr seemed to be reminding people of obvious: there is a difference between words/actions. Keep that in mind while reading entire ‘obstruction’ section. Did president ever ‘do’ anything to impede investigation? It would seem no.”
From NTD News