Special Counsel Robert Mueller figured that he could deliver a neutral review of his report and then disappear from the public eye. Obviously, Robert Mueller was very wrong. In five words, Mueller summed up the entire situation: “The report is my testimony.”
Of course, politicians on both sides have swayed Mueller’s words in a way that would fit their own agenda. The only thing that everyone can agree on is that Mueller doesn’t want to testify, and if he’s forced to make an appearance on the Hill, he won’t be saying too much.
The one thing that everyone can take away from this is that Mueller wanted it known that he didn’t exonerate President Donald Trump. This is clear in his report, but all the public has seen is the trimmed down TV version.
Mueller’s key statement: “If we had 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.”
The reason for this statement was because Mueller believed that he was bound by a memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which concluded that a sitting president can’t be indicted. “Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” said Mueller.
It’s painfully clear that Mueller’s conclusion is wildly different than the one William Barr released when he provided his four-page summary of Mueller’s report. Attorney General William Barr stated the Mueller “was not saying that but for the OLC opinion, he would have found a crime. He made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime.” According to Mueller, he couldn’t make any kind of determination because of the memo from the DOJ.
The Mueller report, which is being read by many different people on both sides, cites the same exact memo: “The opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” Now, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and several other Democrats are saying that Mueller gave the House the go-ahead to start the hearings, despite the fact that Nadler has only said that options are on the table.
Meanwhile, President Trump has tweeted that “nothing changes,” that there was “insufficient evidence,” and that “the case is closed.” Now, that Mueller has told us his reasoning for not coming up with a determination, there are a few questions that the people are wondering. If Mueller knew from the very beginning that he couldn’t bring charges up against the president, then why did he spend two years investigating him in the first place?
According to this logic, as Brit Hume pointed out, if Mueller had found evidence the Trump colluded with the Russians, then he couldn’t have said anything about it. He could only report that he didn’t find evidence of collusion, which is what he obviously did.
This same logic could also be interpreted as Mueller wanting to bring an indictment against President Trump since he couldn’t clear him of wrongdoing, but there was nothing that he could do about it. It’s important to understand that Mueller could have chosen to ignore the memo and pursue criminal charges if he felt that they were needed. It’s also important to realize that Barr expected Mueller to make a recommendation on criminal charges, which he failed to do, passing off the responsibility to Barr instead.