Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said she has prosecuted people for obstruction of justice with far less evidence.
On Sunday, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said the report from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation lays out plenty of evidence that Trump tried to obstruct justice.
"I think it paints a really devastating portrait of a president and a campaign who welcomed a foreign adversary's illegal interference in our election, who continually lied about it, and then used the power of the presidency to try to thwart an investigation into his own conduct," Yates said on "Meet the Press."
"That's not exoneration," she added.
The report details numerous instances of Trump trying to obstruct the investigation, which Yates, who was a prosecutor for nearly 30 years, said is especially damning.
"I've personally prosecuted obstruction cases on far, far less evidence than this," Yates said. "And yes, I believe that if he were not the president of the United States, he would likely be indicted on obstruction."
The Department of Justice has a longstanding policy against indicting sitting presidents, which is a major reason cited by Mueller as to why he did not bring charges against Trump.
One of the strongest pieces of evidence in the report, according to Yates, is Trump's attempt to fire Mueller through his White House counsel Don McGahn. Trump then tried to get McGahn to lie about the interaction.
Yates served as deputy attorney general under President Obama and served as acting attorney general for a short period under Trump. Trump fired Yates in January 2017 when she refused to defend Trump's Muslim ban in court.
Yates also criticized Trump for welcoming help from Russia to win the White House in 2016.
"When the Russians came knocking at their door, you would expect that a man who likes to make a show of hugging the flag would have done the patriotic thing and would have notified law enforcement," Yates said.
Instead of immediately letting the FBI know that a foreign adversary was making overtures to influence the election, the Trump campaign eagerly accepted and welcomed the help. Trump infamously asked Russia, in public, to find Hillary Clinton's emails — a task that Russia undertook a mere five hours after Trump asked.
Trump and his inner circle were quick to claim the Mueller report was a "full exoneration" before a redacted version was released to the public. But as Yates explained, the report makes clear that Trump was in no way exonerated and that he committed a number of crimes for which he could and would be indicted if he were anyone but the president of the Untied States.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.