Mueller speaks about the Russia investigation
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."
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."
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."
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.
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.
Special counsel Robert Mueller stressed what he previously wrote in his 448-page report: If President Donald Trump had not committed a crime, investigators would have said so.
In other words: They never gave Trump that clean bill of health.
Mueller made very clear that no matter what they discovered on obstruction, the overriding principle that a president could not be indicted prevailed. Those Justice Department guidelines, which say a sitting president has temporary immunity from federal prosecution, date back to the Nixon era and were reaffirmed in the Clinton administration.
Mueller’s statement Wednesday on this topic was not in line with Attorney General William Barr’s previous comments downplaying the role of the decades-old guidance from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
The role of Congress: Additionally, Mueller made clear he believes Congress has a role, saying the Constitution allows for a process outside of the criminal justice system to hold federal officeholders accountable. This was also featured in his report, which explicitly said that Congress has the power to a President accountable for obstruction-of-justice offenses.
He also defended his team and the right to investigate the issue of obstruction, amidst repeated charges by the President that the investigation was a politically motivated “witch hunt” that was riddled with corruption. Mueller noted that the order appointing him as special counsel in May 2017 explicitly authorized his obstruction inquiry.
Jerry Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said it "falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump."
He was responding to special counsel Robert Mueller's comments moments ago. (In his statement, Mueller stressed that if Trump had not committed a crime, investigators would have said so. They never gave Trump that clean bill of health.)
Here's what Nadler said:
“Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so. No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law."