Mueller: ‘If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so’

At long last, we have heard from the man… Special counsel Robert Mueller made a rare public appearance yesterday to issue a statement on the findings of his report and to announce the closing of the special counsel’s office. In his remarks, Mueller made it clear he did not pursue obstruction of justice charges against Trump based on his findings because Justice Department guidelines didn’t allow him that option. 

Washington (CNN) – Special counsel Robert Mueller said in a rare and remarkable public statement yesterday, Wednesday May 29, his investigation could not clear Donald Trump and that charging the President was not an option his office could consider.

“If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.”

In Mueller’s first public comments on the investigation since he was appointed special counsel two years ago, he emphasized that Justice Department guidelines did not allow him to charge a sitting President, and as a result, his office did not determine whether Trump had committed obstruction of justice.

As he announced he was closing the special counsel’s office and resigning from the Justice Department, Mueller delivered a road map of how the investigation played out and the possible role that Congress could play in holding Trump accountable. Mueller highlighted how the “Constitution requires a process other than” the criminal justice system to hold officeholders accountable, a clear signal that his obstruction investigation into Trump could be picked up by Congress.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, whose committee would lead impeachment proceedings, said in a statement that Congress should now respond to Mueller’s findings. “Given that special counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump — and we will do so,” Nadler said. “At this point all options are on the table, and nothing should be ruled out,” the New York Democrat told reporters about a possible impeachment inquiry.

Democratic presidential candidates immediately called for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry. “Bob Mueller was essentially referring impeachment to the United States Congress,” said California Sen. Kamala Harris.

“Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately,” tweeted Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat who previously had taken a far more cautious stand on impeachment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has thus far resisted calls to begin an impeachment inquiry, said at an event Wednesday that the option remained on the table, but she also emphasized how it’s still a minority of House Democrats who back impeachment at this point.

“Many constituents want to impeach the President, but we want to do what is right and what gets results,” Pelosi said in an interview at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. “We are investigating and we are litigating, and we are going to as we go down the path and make a decision based on the strongest possible case to get the best results for the American people.”

Mueller’s public statement did not appear to sway Trump, who has claimed the investigation exonerated him.
“Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you,” Trump tweeted minutes after Mueller’s statement ended.

Later Wednesday, Trump added via tweet: “How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by Democrats? WITCH-HUNT!”

The prospect of House Democrats launching an impeachment inquiry into the President, which has been simmering in recent weeks amid the White House’s stonewalling of Democratic congressional investigations, is not prompting the President to back down. A source familiar with Trump’s thinking said the President’s view on impeachment is “let’s do it. This fight will end up on our side. American people will see this as a scam. It is.”

For congressional Republicans, Mueller’s statement did not change their argument that it was time for Congress to move on.

“Today’s statement by Mr. Mueller reinforces the findings of his report. And as for me, the case is over,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham. “Mr. Mueller has decided to move on and let the report speak for itself. Congress should follow his lead.”

Mueller’s statement, which was delivered amid political disputes about the findings of Mueller’s investigation — particularly regarding whether Trump obstructed justice — emphasized that the special counsel’s indictments revealed how the Russians “launched a concerted attack on our political system. There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American” Mueller said.

The Justice Department released a redacted version of the special counsel’s report last month. The report detailed numerous cases in which Trump asked his aides to take actions that would have obstructed the investigation, but stated they were unsuccessful because the aides refused his orders.

The report also says that the investigation into possible collusion found that members of the Trump campaign knew they would benefit from Russia’s illegal actions to influence the election, but didn’t take criminal steps to help.


The Yucatan Times