Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) posted a false claim on Wednesday from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday — only to delete it later.
The claim was that Mueller would have indicted President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice if not for a memorandum by the Office of Legal Counsel that concluded it would be unconstitutional to indict a sitting president.
That claim was contradicted by earlier statements by Attorney General William Barr. Barr said that even if the president could be indicted for obstruction — whether during or after his term in office — it could not be for carrying out duties within the scope of his constitutional duties. Furthermore, he explained, the evidence was simply not good enough to sustain a prosecution for obstruction in the examples where it might conceivably have been brought.
Nevertheless, Democrats, including Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), pushed the idea during Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee — and Mueller took the bait (transcript via NBC):
Lieu: I believe any reasonable person looking at these facts could conclude that all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice have been met. And I’d like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?
Mueller: That is correct.
Harris posted an image with the transcript of that exchange.
Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris is pushing a retracted claim from Robert Mueller to her 2 million Instagram followers. pic.twitter.com/K4bV2pAeka
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) July 24, 2019
The idea that the OLC memo was the only reason Trump was not indicted kept Democrats’ hopes alive that there might still be evidence sufficient to sustain a prosecution once he leaves office — or to impeach him.
But later, in his opening statement at the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller had to correct the record:
Mueller: I want to add one correction to my testimony this morning. I wanted to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu. It was said, and I quote, “you didn’t charge the president because of the OLC opinion.” That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report and as I said in the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.
As of Victoria Marshall of Townhall notes, Harris — or, more precisely, her campaign — deleted the Instagram post.