In his statement this morning, Robert Mueller said “if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” He also said that, because of Office of Legal Counsel guidance, his team did not have the option of charging a sitting president with a crime.
This is the opposite of what he told Attorney General William Barr and several other DOJ officials at a meeting which took place on March 5th.
Barr was asked about why Mueller had failed to come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction of justice during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1st. He said, “We were frankly surprised that they were not going to reach a decision on obstruction and we asked them a lot about the reasoning behind this. Mueller stated three times to us in that meeting, in response to our questioning, that he emphatically was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found obstruction.”
Barr made a similar remark at the press conference he held prior to the public release of the redacted Mueller Report. He told reporters, “We specifically asked him about the OLC opinion and whether or not he was taking a position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the OLC opinion. And he made it very clear several times that was not his position.”
Mueller has given fresh life to the ongoing impeachment debate among House Democrats. Until today, only one 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, fully supported the impeachment of President Trump. Following Mueller’s statement, Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), Sen. Cory Booker (NY), Sen. Kirsten Gellibrand (NY), Rep. Seth Moulton (MA), Mayor Pete Buttigieg (IN), and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX) have all called for Trump’s impeachment.
Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz appeared on “The Sean Hannity Show” to explain the job of a special counsel. They are tasked with determining if there is sufficient evidence to bring an indictment. Is there sufficient evidence or isn’t there? If yes, the case goes to trial. If not, the case is dropped.
Special counsel Kenneth Starr outlined a list of 11 charges against Bill Clinton in his report, which included perjury and obstruction of justice.
Exoneration is not the job of any prosecutor. Because the cornerstone of the U.S. legal system is the presumption of innocence, the state must prove a defendant’s guilt. If the state is unable to do so, the defendant is found not guilty.
In other words, Mueller’s statement was disingenuous.
Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett weighed in on Mueller’s statement. In his report, Mueller wrote, “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Jarrett said:
In a singular sentence, Mueller managed to reverse the legal duty that prosecutors have rigidly followed in America for centuries. Their legal obligation is not to exonerate someone or prove an individual’s innocence. Nor is any accused person required to prove his or her own innocence.
Prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To bring charges they must have, at minimum, probable cause to believe that a crime was committed.
The special counsel took this inviolate principle and cleverly inverted it. He argued that he could not prove the president did not commit a crime.
Think about what that rationale really means. It is a double negative. Mueller was contending that he can’t prove something didn’t happen.
What if this were the standard for all criminal investigations? Apply it to yourself.
Simply put, Mueller was blowing smoke and he did so for political purposes. There was no obstruction of justice. Trump did not interfere with his investigation. He became angry at times, as anyone would who was falsely accused of a crime. He was innocent and he knew it. He asked the White House lawyer to have Mueller fired, but the lawyer refused to do so. And the investigation continued uninterrupted.
In an earlier post, I wrote that Mueller accomplished what he intended to today. Through his dishonesty, he left a dark cloud of doubt around the President and bolstered the House Democrats’ case for impeachment.
But he also showed that, above all, he is a creature of the deep state. Which should surprise no one.