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Mueller report justifies obstruction charges vs Trump: ex-U.S. Justice Department officials

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Almost 500 former U.S. Justice Department officials said on Monday in a joint statement that the Mueller report’s findings would justify obstruction charges against President Donald Trump if he were not currently occupying the White House.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has said he found insufficient evidence in Mueller’s report to conclude that Trump obstructed justice. Special Counsel Robert Mueller himself made no formal finding one way or the other on that question.

“To look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice ... runs counter to logic and our experience,” said the statement, signed by Justice Department lawyers who served Republican and Democratic presidents stretching back to the 1950s.

As of late Monday, 467 officials had signed the letter.

Mueller’s report unearthed numerous links between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and various Russians, but it concluded there was insufficient evidence to establish that the campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow.

It also described attempts by Trump to impede Mueller’s probe, but stopped short of declaring Trump committed a crime.

Under a long-standing Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel policy, a sitting president cannot be charged with criminal activity.

“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy ... result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” the statement said.