For two years now, President Trump has promoted the narrative that he has been singled out for persecution by the Special Counsel and by his political opponents. The Mueller probe, he has vented, is a form of “Presidential Harassment,” a “Witch Hunt” aimed at unseating “your favorite President.” In the president’s apparent view, no other person – and certainly no other president – would have been treated so harshly.
In the wake of the Mueller Report, and Trump’s exoneration by Attorney General Barr, it is now clear that the truth is exactly the opposite: No other person – and no other president – could have escaped prosecution for obstruction of justice, or at least impeachment, on facts like these.
Let’s start with what separates Donald J. Trump from almost everyone else: He is the president. For Bob Mueller, Trump’s status as president gave Trump a double leg up: First, under Department of Justice guidance, Mueller could not indict the president so long as he remains in office. To that extent, of course, Trump was treated like any other sitting president elected since the issuance of the original Office of Legal Counsel memo. But Mueller took that immunity a critical (and, in my view, mistaken) step further: He reasoned that, because the president could not be indicted, it would be unfair even to reach a judgment about whether Trump had committed obstruction. As a result, Mueller declined to make a formal obstruction finding and instead handed the case off to Attorney General Barr.