Quick takes on the Mueller statement …
To say I was a bit surprised by the announcement that Robert Mueller would issue a public statement today would be an understatement. But, that’s what he did and here are a few thoughts on what I heard.
It’s apparent to me that Robert Mueller is a straight shooter. We’ve heard all along from the pundits and people who know him or have worked for him, that the guy is like this. And I think today he proved that point.
Many on the left, myself included, would have liked Mueller to issue a more definitive statement today. But I knew that wasn’t going to be the case. We got pretty much what you would expect from a career Justice Department employee who goes by the book. Oh, and he’s an ex-marine. So anything that would deviate from the script was not in the cards.
But it doesn’t mean his statement was pointless. On the contrary, much of what Mueller had to say was clearly meant for consumption by a certain body of government: Congress. That’s right, the institution spelled out in Article One of the Constitution that is charged with holding the President of the United States accountable. The only real question is: Will they listen?
Much of what Mueller said is spelled out in excruciating detail in his report, released publicly weeks ago. But as we know, most Americans will not read that report. So, hearing from the man himself is vitally important, even if it’s only in a nine-minute rapid summary.
So here are the main points:
Russia, as alleged by the Grand Jury, launched a concerted attack on our political system that was designed to damage the Hillary Clinton Campaign, and help Donald Trump win the presidency.
Mueller’s office could not find sufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and the Russians.
Mueller stated that if he could have exonerated Trump on obstruction of justice, he would have done so.
Mueller reiterated, as he did in The Report, that he followed Justice Department rules as to why he did not or could not indict the President.
Those Justice Department rules, based on the Office of Legal Counsel’s(OLC) opinion, further state that the Constitution requires a process other than the justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.
Mueller went out of his way to praise the attorneys, FBI agents, analysts, and professional staff who helped him conduct the investigation in a fair and independent manner. He thanked them all for spending two years with the office, as well as performing their duties with the “highest integrity.”
Again, most of these points are all spelled out in The Report itself. But can anyone with an independent bone in their body not concede that “a process other than the justice system” is clearly a reference to Congress and impeachment? As stated earlier, Mueller isn’t going to spell it out. He wasn’t going to come out to that podium, breathing fire and telling the Democrats what to do. It’s not how the man operates. The OLC opinion was his guiding light, and he wasn’t going to indict the President. In Mueller’s eyes, it’s Congress that has a duty to either act or not. Volume Two of The Report is a roadmap for Congress. To say otherwise would be a disservice to the two-year investigation.
We also need to be clear of something else that stands out from Mueller’s statement. The idea that he adhered to the OLC opinion is a direct rebuke of Attorney General William Barr. It was Barr, of course, who stated at his summary of findings press conference, that it was not the OLC opinion that prevented Mueller from indicting the President. This was a lie. We had heard Mueller was not happy with Barr’s initial characterization of his report. Mueller confirmed that today.
Finally, I feel Mueller’s kind words to all of those who assisted him with the investigation, is another direct rebuke—this time to President Trump. How often in the last two years have we heard this President go after not only Mueller, but the other attorneys and FBI agents who were involved in the investigation? By noting the high integrity and independence of this group, Mueller, in his typical understated style, is telling Trump he was wrong.
This was NOT a witch hunt. And these people were not, in Trump’s words, “13 angry Democrats” who were out to get Trump. They were all patriots, who put their lives on hold to conduct one of the most critical investigations in our history. Maybe others won’t take it that way. But I sure do.
In the end, Robert Mueller did his job. I’ve always felt that. He’s an institutionalist, and better yet, a true patriot in every sense of the word. Yes, I’m disappointed in some of the things he did or did not do in the investigation. I think he should have gone harder at Donald Trump Jr., as well as Jared Kushner. And let’s not forget the fact that the President himself, provided “inadequate and unresponsive” answers to Mueller’s questions. He should have issued a subpoena, regardless of the delay.
Overall though, he held up his end of the bargain. Now it’s up to Congress, especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I do think Mueller should go before Congress and answer questions publicly. You can tell he’d rather have a root canal than do that. But, the public should hear from him, even if it means he refers to The Report over and over. The guy has integrity, and the American people have a right to hear it from the man himself.
Comparing Mueller’s stature and long distinguished career with that of the current President, would provide a compelling and potent contrast. The President himself fears such a spectacle … all the more reason to make it happen.
One more thing …
Mueller closed his statement with this: “There were multiple systematic efforts to interfere with our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.” It’s too bad the one American who could really make a difference, doesn’t give a damn.