Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first – and potentially last – public statement was what baseballer Yogi Berra famously said. “It was déjà vu all over again.” The ONLY thing new in his statement was that he was resigning from his position in the Department of Justice and moving on to life as a private citizen – and even that had been anticipated since he handed his Report over to his bosses at the DOJ more than a month ago.
Everything he said at the podium was already contained in the report. He said he will not – and he did not – elaborate in any way on what is contained in the Report. That is why he refused to take any questions. It is why he has forewarned Congress that he will not testify voluntarily – in public or in closed session – because he has nothing to add beyond what is contained in the Report. Even if subpoenaed by one or several congressional committees, he will not say anything that is not already stated in the Report.
This is a rather arrogant approach when you consider that the Report created great confusion – largely because Mueller did not do his job. He spent two years interviewing hundreds of individuals all over the globe at a cost of more than $25 millions and failed to give a definitive answer on one of the two central questions regarding President Trump.
He was clear that no one in the Trump campaign criminally colluded with Russia and its activities involving the 2016 election. But even in that, he used vague language that could be easily spun by Trump’s political adversaries. Mueller said that they did not find “sufficient evidence” that any American – including the Trump folks – were guilty of criminal collusion.
Under our system of justice, that means Trump & Co. is innocent … period. Even in his reference to the indicted Russian, Mueller noted that he was not alleging guilt because, in America, a person is innocent until PROVEN guilty. That is even more true when there is no evidence of a crime – and that is how it ended in terms of criminal collusion. Trump was declared innocent by Mueller.
Democrats and those anti-Trump media analysts have decided that just because Mueller – in all that time and with all the money – could not find evidence of a crime, it does not mean that Trump was not guilty. It was just that the evidence was elusive. That puts the entire American justice system upside down – with a person presumed guilty despite the lack of evidence.
The more disturbing issue is the questions of obstruction of justice. In that, Mueller did not do his job. After all that time, all that investigating, all those interrogated and all that money, he punted. He did not come to a conclusion one way or the other.
Following his public statement, the Democrats and media analysts all decided that Mueller would have indicted Trump were it not for the Department of Justice rule that an incumbent President cannot be indicted. Of course, that is not what Mueller said. He said they came to NO conclusion on the question of obstruction.
While it is generally agreed that Mueller could not indict a sitting President, he could have said that there was sufficient evidence for an indictment, but he was prevented from issuing one because of the rule. He could have done what he was hired to do – make the call, one way or the other. Despite Trump critics putting the words in Mueller’s mouth, he never said he would have indicted Trump if he could. In short, he seems to have decided that Trump’s action did not rise to obstruction. When a prosecutor says he does not know if the person committed a crime or not – and this is exactly what Mueller stated — the case is closed – no prosecution.
That appears to be the case since there was nothing that would have prevented Mueller from saying he believed that Trump was guilty of obstruction even if he could not issue an indictment at this time. That would have been the thing to do IF Mueller believed Trump was, indeed, guilty.
In fact, if you go back to the report by Independent Counsel Ken Starr, who investigated President Clinton, you will find that he noted 11 times in which he believed Clinton had been guilty of a crime. Like Mueller, Starr could not indict Clinton, but he provided Congress with a clear legal opinion of the investigators. In doing that, Starr gave Congress more than vague words and imprecise opinions to consider.
While Trump adversaries can spin the meaning of Mueller’s decision not to be specific, they are left with considering a political action in the court-of-public-opinion. They can proceed with impeachment because there is no requirement for provable criminality – just the political will to impeach.
While most analysts believe that Mueller’s statement creates problems for Trump, they are the same problems, the same issue and the same spin based on perspective that arose when the Report was released. That is because nothing Mueller said from the podium was not already stated in the report.
While nothing changes for Trump, it is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who may have been handed the most vexing problem by Mueller. There is no doubt that the pro-impeachment members of her Democrat caucus are going to be emboldened. They want to impeach — and are willing to hype any event or statement to the max to create more pressure on Pelosi, who sees the political dangers of an impeachment process. The Mueller statement changes nothing but the zeal of the impeachment proponents – and that puts Pelosi in a greater bind.
While the political left is hyperventilating over the meaningless Mueller statement, it does not change the FACT that according to Mueller, Attorney General William Barr, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Office of Legal Counsel at the DOJ, Trump is innocent of any and all criminal charges – not because he cannot be indicted at this time, but because no one has alleged that he had committed criminal collusion or obstruction of Justice – and Mueller’s bosses have determined that Trump did not commit those crimes. The legal case is closed. It is now up to Democrats to decide fi they really want to pursue a political inquiry.
So, there ‘tis.