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Mueller speaks about the Russia investigation

Mueller's words a sharp contrast to Barr's suggestion
03:30

What we covered here

  • Earlier today: Special counsel Robert Mueller made his first statement about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Read the full story here. See the key moments below.
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Just tuning in? Let us catch you up on what happened with Mueller today

It’s been a busy day in Washington.

Special counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly for the first time ever about his 22-month-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He also announced that he’s returning to private life and the special counsel’s office said today marked his last day in his position.

If you missed it all, here’s how the day played out:

  • Mueller’s surprise statement: The special counsel made his statement with little warning (Nancy Pelosi’s office got no heads up, and the White House only learned about it last night).
  • What he said: Mueller said his investigation could not clear President Trump and that charging the President was not an option his office could consider. He emphasized that Justice Department guidelines did not allow him to charge a sitting President.
  • A key takeaway: Mueller said that if Trump had not committed a crime, investigators would have said so. They never gave Trump that clean bill of health. 
  • What the White House is saying: Press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the White House was not surprised by Mueller’s statement today, saying there was “no real news in there.”
  • Democrats’ demands: After Mueller suggested the onus is on Congress to hold the President accountable, many Democrats ratcheted up their demands that Congress begin impeachment proceedings. And some new voices joined the calls: Sen. Cory Booker for the first time said Trump should be impeached.
  • But remember: While Democratic leadership is facing more pressure to start the impeachment process, no one has formally taken those steps. Speaker Pelosi — while saying that nothing is off the table — has not indicated that she will start the process. House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler today said that it “falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump” — but did not announce any action.

Today is Mueller's last day as special counsel

Today is Robert Mueller’s last day as special counsel, according to special counsel spokesperson Peter Carr.

Earlier today, Mueller said he was resigning from the Department of Justice and returning to private life.

Pelosi: Many want to impeach Trump, but we need to make a "compelling" case

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, said many of her constituents support starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump — but she wants to ensure that any case Congress makes is a “compelling” one.

Pelosi said that “nothing is off the table” but stressed the need for an “ironclad” case to convince Republican lawmakers.

“But we do want to make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case that even the Republican Senate would — at the time seems to be not an objective jury —will be convinced of the path that we have to take as a country,” she said.

Biden believes impeachment may be unavoidable, campaign spokesperson says

A spokesperson for former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign told CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller’s statement today reiterated two points: one, that Russia continues to meddle, a reality Trump can’t ignore, and two, Congress continue to investigate.

“What is truly troubling is that we have seen this President and this Administration engaging in flagrant, open attacks on the rule of law by throwing up roadblocks early in the stages of Congress’ investigation,” the spokesperson said. “Not only that, President Trump is now directing an extraordinary internal vendetta against law enforcement and intelligence community investigators who were doing their job.”

On impeachment, Biden sides with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has urged caution from progressives who have pushed for impeachment proceedings to begin.

“Vice President Biden agrees with Speaker Pelosi that no one would relish what would certainly be a divisive impeachment process, but that it may be unavoidable if this Administration continues on its path,” the spokesperson said.

They added, “Vice President Biden will continue to make the case as to why President Trump should not be re-elected. That is the surefire way to get him out of office.”

Nadler on impeachment: "All options are on the table and nothing should be ruled out"

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, after saying that he believed the Department of Justice’s policy preventing the president from being charged with a crime is “wrong,” told a reporter he wasn’t ruling out the possibility of impeachment.

Nadler: "President Trump is lying"

House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, said President Trump has lied about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“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.”

He continued:

NOW: House Judiciary chair speaks after Mueller's statement

House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, is talking to reporters following special counsel Robert Mueller’s statement this morning on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

After Mueller spoke, Nadler released a statement saying that it “falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump.”

Pelosi: Congress's duty to "investigate and hold the President accountable" is sacred

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Congress believes its responsibility “to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power” is a sacred duty — but she did not call for impeachment proceedings.

Pelsoi has long said she does not want to begin impeachment proceedings, but in recent weeks, she has faced increasing pressure from some Democrats to do so.

She continued: The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power. The Congress will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy.

Trump campaign manager says case closed

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale echoed the president’s comments, saying “the case is now closed.”

In a statement, he said:

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s remarks today confirmed what we already knew. There was no collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and there was no case for obstruction. President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated. Mueller said his investigation is over. The case is now closed.”

Parscale added, “Now it’s time to turn to the origins of the Russia hoax and get to the bottom of why the Trump campaign was spied on by the Obama-era DOJ and FBI. Anyone who is for transparency, constitutional civil liberties, and the rule of law should want to know why human sources, wiretapping, and unmasking were used to infiltrate a presidential campaign.”

Senior Democratic strategist: "Mueller should be subpoenaed the day he leaves the DOJ"

A senior Democratic strategist tells CNN that Mueller “should be subpoenaed the day he leaves the DOJ.”

Here’s more from the source:

 “He has no basis on which to resist a subpoena to testify.
There are dozens of legitimate questions that arise from his report—its findings and the judgements he made as an investigator (for example why he did not interview the president, his judgement on campaign law violations, how does he think about statute of limitations issues; did he know at the outset that he could only be an exonerating investigator as concerns the President).
The commentary is too soft on Mueller’s position. He is not above having to explain himself. His position that every American should read 450 pages in order to understand his findings on the President’s conduct is neither reasonable nor in the public interest.
He should not be given a pass and I think that things will gravitate toward not giving him a pass.”

 Trump legal team source: Mueller statement was "gratuitous"

A Trump legal team source said it was “gratuitous” of Special counsel Robert Mueller to make the statement, “if we had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

“Gratuitous,” the source said emphatically, arguing Mueller did not have to make that kind of statement, leaving the door open to interpretation that Trump could conceivably be accused of committing a crime. 

The source went on to say that Mueller during his remarks made it obvious he doesn’t want to appear before Congress. “He clearly doesn’t want to testify,” the source said. 

But the Trump legal team source says Mueller has not been ordered to avoid testifying. 

“He has not been instructed not to testify,” the source said. 

Kamala Harris: "Mueller was essentially referring impeachment to the United States Congress"

Senate Judiciary Committee member and presidential candidate Kamala Harris just told reporters:

She told reporters in Anderson, South Carolina, that “what we learned is that the special counsel did not return an indictment because of that memo. In other words, but for that memo, I believe that a fair inference from what we heard from Bob Mueller is that there would have been indictments returned against this President.”

She also accused Attorney General William Barr of misleading the American people.

Moments later, as she took the stage, some in the crowd chanted, “Defeat Trump now!”

2020 presidential candidates react to Mueller's statement

A number of 2020 presidential candidates — all of them Democrats — tweeted that Mueller’s statement should lead to impeachment proceedings.

Elizabeth Warren:

Kamala Harris:

Seth Moulton:

Cory Booker:

Julián Castro:

White House: "The report was clear — there was no collusion, no conspiracy"

The White House just released a statement from Press Secretary Sarah Sanders following Mueller’s press conference today, saying, “the report was clear—there was no collusion, no conspiracy” and that the Department of Justice “confirmed there was no obstruction.”

Here’s the full statement:

“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.”

Trump feels the American people will see impeachment "as a scam," source says

A source familiar with President Trump’s thinking says the President’s view on impeachment is this: “Let’s do it. This fight will end up on our side. American people will see this as a scam.”

Top Republican on House Judiciary Committee: "No collusion and no obstruction"

Rep. Doug Collins, Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, just released a statement that praised Robert Mueller and said the special counsel “confirmed today what we knew months ago when his report was released: there was no collusion and no obstruction.”

He added, “Relitigating the 2016 election and reinvestigating the special counsel’s findings will only further divide our country,” and it’s “time to move on.”

Cory Booker says for the first time that Congress should begin impeachment proceedings

Sen. Cory Booker, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, just tweeted: “Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.”

Why it’s notable: This is the first time Booker has called for impeachment proceedings.

He has previously said he wanted to see the entire unredacted Mueller report before making a decision on whether or not President Trump should be impeached.

Senior White House official: Mueller's statement isn't new

A senior White House official downplayed Mueller’s comments today, saying that his statement did little to add new information to what was already known about the probe.

“It was news one month ago,” the official said.

On the issue of whether the next step is impeachment, Trump aides don’t believe that Mueller did more than repeat what was in the report, the official said.

“Nothingburger,” is how the official described it.

Here's the takeaway: Mueller wouldn’t have charged the President with a crime even if they had the evidence