Trump Didn't Seem To Get This Big Point From Mueller's Public Statement
On Wednesday, May 29, Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally addressed his dramatic investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election. It was a moment a lot of people have been waiting for, but Donald Trump's response to Robert Mueller's statement misses one big takeaway from the press conference. Either way, the president sounds pleased.
During Mueller's press conference, the special counsel stated that his office's investigation was officially closed and that he would be retiring from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to return to private life. In his public remarks, in which he took no questions, Mueller doubled down on his report's main findings, including his decision not to draw a conclusion about whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, and his assessment about the threat of Russian election meddling. Following Mueller's statement, Trump took to Twitter to celebrate the small victory, but his tweet misses a big point. He wrote,
Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.
In his statement, Mueller did note that charging Trump with a crime was never an option his team could consider, seeing as the DOJ's policy states that a sitting president cannot be indicted while in office to avoid government instability. However, that's a far cry from saying the case is "closed." Even though Mueller's investigation is officially over, the special counsel did point out that while charging a president with a crime is outside his scope, there's another process that could accuse a president of a crime — namely, impeachment, though he didn't expressly name the process. "The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” he said.
On May 29, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement following Mueller's press conference. The statement read,
The Special Counsel has completed the investigation, closed his office, and has closed the case. Mr. Mueller explicitly said that he has nothing to add beyond the report, and therefore, does not plan to testify before Congress. The report was clear — there was no collusion, no conspiracy — and the Department of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction. Special Counsel Mueller also stated that Attorney General Barr acted in good faith in his handling of the report. After two years, the Special Counsel is moving on with his life, and everyone else should do the same.
As of May 29, the president has not been officially accused of or charged with any crime, and no serious impeachment proceedings have begun.
Later in the briefing, Mueller did confirm, as had U.S. intelligence authorities, that there was significant Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. However, the special counsel noted that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia to influence the election's results.
In recent months, the Democratic party has increased their calls for Trump's impeachment. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pushed back against her party's demands, rejecting the motion to move forward with the process.
Even if the threat of impeachment might loom over President Trump, it looks like for now he's in the clear. We'll just have to wait and see if anything changes.