McQuade: Trump committed obstruction of justice

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Barbara McQuade

Former Detroit U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade signed onto a statement Monday with hundreds of other former federal prosecutors saying President Donald Trump would be charged with crimes for obstruction of justice were he not in the White House.  

McQuade said on Twitter that she endorsed the document "to make clear what (Special Counsel Robert) Mueller’s nuance may have obscured: Trump’s conduct violated the obstruction of justice statute, and he would be charged with crimes if he were not president."

McQuade, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, served as the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Michigan from 2010 to March 2017, stepping down after Trump took office. 

She co-chaired the Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee from 2010-17.

Now a professor at the University of Michigan School of Law, McQuade has opined extensively on the Mueller investigation and report. 

The letter, published on the website Medium, had been signed by more than 390 former federal prosecutors from both Republican and Democratic administrations, as of Monday afternoon. They described themselves as former "line attorneys, supervisors, special prosecutors, United States Attorneys and senior officials at the Department of Justice."

Trump has incorrectly said the Mueller report "exonerated" him. The group of former prosecutors painted a different picture. 

"Despite the tremendous success that I have had as President, including perhaps the greatest ECONOMY and most successful first two years of any President in history, they have stolen two years of my (our) Presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back," Trump tweeted Sunday. 

"Also, there are 'No High Crimes & Misdemeanors,' No Collusion, No Conspiracy, No Obstruction. ALL THE CRIMES ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE, and that’s what the Dems should be looking at, but they won’t. Nevertheless, the tables are turning!"

In the statement, the prosecutors said the details included in 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."

They specifically cite Trump's alleged efforts to fire Mueller via former White House counsel Donald McGahn and then to "falsify evidence about that effort." 

"Firing Mueller would have seriously impeded the investigation of the President and his associates  —  obstruction in its most literal sense," they wrote.

"Directing the creation of false government records in order to prevent or discredit truthful testimony is similarly unlawful."

The prosecutors also point to Trump's efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct and to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign. 

"All of this conduct  —  trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others  —  is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions," the prosecutors wrote.

McQuade, who oversaw public corruption cases while in office, has also questioned Attorney General Bill Barr's decision to conclude that Trump hadn't violated any laws after Mueller found it inappropriate to say whether Trump committed obstruction of justice.

"Barr has said that were no instances in which he overruled the special counsel. In fact, he overruled Mueller’s finding of obstruction," she tweeted last week. 

"He should just say so instead of using letters, press conference and testimony to mislead the public." 

McQuade has also criticized Trump for downplaying Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying "Trump’s failure to protect our country from future attacks is his biggest betrayal."