GP Insights # 56, 2 June 2019
On 29 May 2019, special counsel Robert Mueller declined to clear President Trump from his obstruction of justice. During a short press conference, he is noted to have said that “If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
This was Mueller’s first public statement on the two-year investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and probably his last as he is reportedly set to resign the office.
What is the background?
On 18 April 2019, Special Counsel Robert Mueller had released a 448-page report that established no conspiracy over the Russian interference in Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Also, the report had identified and stated around 10 instances of probable obstructions of justice by Trump.
Further, in what could be the latest clatter with the Congress, on 08 May 2019, the White House formally asserted its executive authority over Robert Mueller’s report. Thus, terminating the debate over what materials legislators would be allowed to view from the report submitted by Mueller.
What does it mean?
Mueller’s report in many ways felt out of the way with the present political moment as it comes more than a month after Attorney General William Barr released the report. It was a straightforward statement, quite the opposite to Barr who had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice. While reflecting his obligation to investigate potential obstruction, he added that charging the president with a crime was impossible from the beginning due to guidelines from the Department of Justice that barred prosecutors from indicting a sitting president. This might further give a little more fodder to the Democrats who supported impeachment than before.
Mueller has stated what he wanted to say without openly involving in the political face-off and clarified that he had nothing more to add than what’s already in the report. Now, the ball is much more firmly grounded into the Congress’ court as it is certainly up to them to figure out what to do with his findings.