In an answer to this question, @Peter said that:

...the Mueller Report ... would have resulted in multiple felony charges for any American other than the president.

Is this a true statement? If so, why are the referenced felonies not a problem for the president?


3 Answers 3


While the question of whether Trump's actions would have resulted in felony charges is a matter of opinion (though the 1027 prosecutors who signed the letter you mentioned is strong evidence in the positive), it is a fact that Mueller specifically avoided making a judgement about indictable offenses and chose to stick to investigating and reporting the bare facts of the case.

Robert Mueller was operating under a memo issued by the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Council in 2000 which stated that, under their understanding of the law, a sitting President cannot be indicted or prosecuted while in office.

In 1973, the Department concluded that the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. ... We believe that the conclu­sion reached by the Department in 1973 still represents the best interpretation of the Constitution


For more discussion of this memo, see the question How is justice supposed to work for the president of the United States?.

Based on this memo, Mueller stated that he did not consider it his job to determine whether the president did or did not commit a crime:

“The special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy,” Mueller said. “Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”

Mueller did not say explicitly that he would have accused Trump of a crime had it not been for the standing policy, but he reiterated that his investigation did not exonerate Trump.

“If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Mueller said.

Mueller quoted by The Hill

The statement by former prosecutors that you mentioned also mentions this:

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 against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.

The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming


So, while I can't say for sure that Trump would have been charged had he not been president, I think the odds (of being charged, not necessarily convicted) are quite good. However under current legal guidance, as a sitting president he is currently immune to prosecution by the DOJ and impeachment is the only remedy for his (alleged) crimes.

When asked by AG Barr whether he would have indicted Trump if not for the OLC policy, Mueller did not say that he would have. Some have pointed to this as evidence that he specifically found Trump to not have met the bar for indictment. However, as uMdRupert pointed out, Mueller's office specifically addressed this point to shoot down this theory:

“The Special Counsel’s report and his statement today made clear that the office concluded it would not reach a determination – one way or the other – about whether the President committed a crime. There is no conflict between these statements,” they said.

DOJ, special counsel say there is 'no conflict' on Mueller, Barr statements about obstruction inquiry - The Hill


Did the Mueller report find that Trump committed any felonies?


Because of the DOJ policy (that a sitting President cannot be indicted), Mueller did not consider the question of whether President Trump's actions rose to the level of an indictable offense. Which is a far, far cry from saying that anyone but the President would have been indicted for such actions.

Mueller also didn't consider whether the President's tie committed any indictable offenses. This doesn't mean that if it were anything but the President's tie, then it would have been indicted. It just means that the justice system doesn't indict pieces of clothing.

  • 9
    That addresses the question in the title, and fails to address the question in the body of the question. As an answer to the question in the title, it is correct.
    – Peter
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 12:33
  • 6
    That wasn't the question asked... Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 19:41
  • 1
    The president's tie??? How did clothing get into the issue?
    – BobE
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 19:19
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    @BobE it is called sarcasm. The poster is making a point about how and why the askers reasoning is flawed.
    – user64742
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 5:20
  • @TheGreatDuck OK, then /S
    – BobE
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 5:40

The answer to your specific question (in the body of your OP), is very likely


The report, while not looking to convict or even justify a conviction, was a collection of fairly damning evidence, that, should such evidence be presented against a person that was not a currently sitting president, would almost certainly have criminal charges brought before them for obstruction of justice (among a host of other things).

Whether or not the person accused would be convicted of felonies is not a matter that could be asserted with any degree of confidence, but the quoted statement is highly likely to be true.

The answer in the title of your OP, however, is different. The report did not determine guilt or innocence of anything.

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