Michael Zeldin, a former assistant to special counsel Robert Mueller, spoke with Newsweek to talk about the recent report that was released by the special counsel and explained that Donald Trump was not charged with obstruction of justice because of “defective” regulations surrounding his position.
“My thought is that the special counsel regulations are defective,” Zeldin said, “because of the problem we see in this case, which is the special counsel is really not a truly independent counsel.”
Though Mueller was not managed day-to-day by the DOJ, he was nevertheless “obliged to adhere to Department of Justice policy and perhaps preference—unless he objects to their decision, in which case there has to be a notification to Congress,” Zeldin said.
The newer special counsel law, according to the Congressional Research Service, allows for “less ‘independence’ from the attorney general and the Department of Justice than did the independent counsels.”
According to the report, back when Zeldin and Mueller were working together at the DOJ in the early 1990s, they operated under a Watergate-era law governing independent counsels that Congress allowed to expire in 1999.
“The problem we find ourselves in today in part is Mueller went along with the Department of Justice’s policy that he felt that he was really duty bound to,” Zeldin continued, adding that DOJ regulations on the release of documents “swung the pendulum too far in favor of secrecy.”
“So now we have the situation where everyone is clamoring for an understanding of what underlies Mueller’s belief that the evidence does not exonerate the president,” the attorney added, “and we don’t have an easy way to get it.”
Zeldin then talked about Attorney General Willam Barr’s role in the report, and said that he “just pulled out one sentence from the report and, like most things, things don’t make sense until you see the full context, so we’re also left groping in the dark. That’s the problem,”