I woke up to headlines about how Robert Mueller was about to make some big, substantive statement. Then the next headlines were just about how he was closing the special counsel’s office and leaving the Justice Department. I thought he had already done those things, but whatever.
He actually said a little more, but not a lot more. He won’t comment further on Russian interference allegations because there are pending indictments. Once again, he said there was insufficient evidence to prove conspiracy. Then he said,
When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation, or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.
And in a second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the president. The order appointing the special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. And we conducted that investigation and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report after that investigation, 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.
Again, not news.
The introduction to the volume two of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing department policy a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional.
Actually, a whole lot of constitutional scholars say otherwise. But let’s go on.
The department’s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report and I will describe two of them for you. First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president, because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.
And second, the opinion says that the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrong doing.
And that would be Congress, I believe.
Now I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner. I am making that decision myself. No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter. There has been discussion about an appearance before congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself.
You’ve probably heard that the House Judiciary Committee has been asking Mueller to testify publicly, and he has said he would only testify privately. Mueller has also been saying he would not testify to anything beyond what is already in the report. Just now Chairman Jerrold Nadler said that Mueller has “clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel’s findings.”
“Although Department of Justice policy prevented the Special Counsel from bringing criminal charges against the President, the Special Counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel’s findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the Special Counsel’s report, and is lying in saying that the Special Counsel found no obstruction and no collusion,” he [Nadler] said.
If I were Jerry Nadler, as soon as Mueller is no longer a Justice Department employee I would serve Mueller with a big, fat subpoena requiring him to appear publicly before the Judicial Committee to reaffirm that Trump was not exonerated of obstruction, and that Trump might still face indictments when he leaves office or impeachment even sooner.