Mueller Talks

Ken AshfordBreaking News, Congress, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Surprise press conference from Robert Mueller in which he took no questions:

Trying not to break DOJ protocol, Mueller did his best to explain but not veer from the words of his report, and was successful. But in being faithful to his report, Mueller tacitly highlighted just how disingenuous AG Barr was when he first summarized the report.

Mueller opened his statement by making it clear that Russia had conducted two separate operations—the hacking and distribution of stolen materials, and a social media campaign—not just for the purpose of interfering in the election, but also “to interfere with a presidential candidate.”

When he moved on to discussing the report itself, Mueller critically did not use the word “collusion” or make any statement absolving Donald Trump or the Trump campaign, except to say that there was “insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.”

Then, moving on to obstruction, Mueller placed fresh emphasis on the actions that Trump took to interfere with the investigation. “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.” Mueller elaborated on the fact that he could not consider charges against Trump entirely because of DOJ policy against charging a sitting executive. Because of that policy, he said, “we could not consider” charging Trump. 

Mueller went out of his way to explain that the regulation prohibited him from indicting Trump, even if that indictment was not public or was under seal—which shows the lengths that the special counsel went in the search for a way to file an indictment. There would be no reason to mention any of this unless investigators had looked into the issues.

Let’s be clear: Mueller said nothing new. But to people who don’t pay attention (and didn’t read the report), what he said is news:

The White House spin is dishonest, in that it leaves out the last part “We did not say so”

Trump, as well, glosses over the truth:

Rudy too”

The OLC’s argument is founded entirely on its view of the constitution’s structure, not its text. The memo even examines a constitutional provision that might be read to buttress its view (the clause limiting penalties from an impeachment conviction) and rejects that reading.

Instead of relying on a constitutional provision, the OLC argues that the enforcement of the criminal law against the president would “unduly interfere” with his ability to do his job, which would “violate” the constitution’s separation of powers among the three branches.

But the constitution provides an explicit remedy for a president who becomes unable to discharge the duties of his office—the 25th amendment.

In any event, one thing is true:

Pelosi has responded. While it makes no mention of the word “impeachment”, this is her most forward statement on Congressional action against Trump. Her full statement:

“It is with the greatest respect for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the deepest disappointment in the Department of Justice holding the President above the law, that I thank Special Counsel Mueller for the work he and his team did to provide a record for future action both in the Congress and in the courts regarding the Trump Administration involvement in Russian interference and obstruction of the investigation.

“Special Counsel Mueller made clear that he did not exonerate the President when he stated, ‘If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.’ He stated that the decision not to indict stemmed directly from the Department of Justice’s policy that a sitting President cannot be indicted. Despite Department of Justice policy to the contrary, no one is above the law – not even the President.

“The Special Counsel’s report revealed that the President’s campaign welcomed Russian interference in the election, and laid out eleven instances of the President’s obstruction of the investigation. The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power.

“The Congress will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy. The American people must have the truth. We call upon the Senate to pass H.R. 1, the For The People Act, to protect our election systems.

“We salute Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team for his patriotic duty to seek the truth.”


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