Attorney General William Barr acknowledged under oath Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller found the president has been implicated in a felony, and that the case has been referred to the Southern District of New York.
Barr confirmed that President Donald Trump is “Individual 1,” the person who, according to the government’s court filing, directed a subordinate to make hush money payments to a woman who said she had an affair with Trump. Those payments violated campaign-finance laws, because they were made with the intention to cover up the affair and influence the election — but were not reported as campaign spending.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) elicited the information during his second round of questions at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Many of President Trump’s defenders have argued since the release of Mueller’s report — which found there was not enough evidence to charge the president with illegal coordination between the campaign and Russian intelligence, but did document numerous instances of Trump attempting to obstruct justice — that since there was no underlying crime, the president could not have obstructed justice. But Leahy asked Barr about a case uncovered in the course of Mueller’s investigation and then referred to a federal court in New York for prosecution.
“Special counsel [Mueller] did uncover evidence of underlying crimes here, including one that directly implicated the president. Did we learn, due to the special counsel’s investigation that Donald Trump known as “Individual 1″ in the Southern District of New York, directing hush payments as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. That matter was discovered by special counsel [and] referred to the [United States Attorney for the] Southern District in New York. Is that correct?” Leahy asked.
“Yes,” Barr replied, grimly.
While the media and Trump’s former longtime personal attorney and “fixer” previously identified Trump as “Individual 1” in the alleged illegal scheme to pay hush money to a woman who claimed to have been the president’s former mistress, this is the first time the attorney general has acknowledged this in public. And in so doing, he seemed to confirm what prosecutors have said in court: that Trump was directing others to commit felonies in a criminal scheme intended to circumvent campaign-finance law.