Updated: Jul 4, 2019
Special Counsel Robert Mueller went before the American people on May 29 and spoke for nine minutes about the report he compiled after a 2-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.
But those few minutes spoke volumes about what he found and why he chose not to make definitive conclusions about possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, or recommend indictment of President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice.
To understand, however, don’t just listen to Mueller’s press conference or listen to the talking heads; read the Executive Summaries Volumes I and II here.
It is widely known that most people, including many members of Congress have not read the report. One representative, Justin Amash (R-Mich), did, and he is the only Republican in Congress to conclude that Donald J. Trump should be impeached.
He said so publicly in a series of Tweets and recently re-iterated his stance at a town hall in his home state. One of his constituents confronted him and said she was upset that Amash was pushing for impeachment because she is a Trump supporter. However, once she heard Amash discuss what was in the report, she was surprised that it conflicted with her understanding that Trump had been cleared. Why the surprise? She only gets her news from conservative sources who parrot Trump – and which Trump often parrots in return.
Mueller’s press conference conveyed succinct bullet points about his findings. The key point was that he confirmed there was documented evidence of Russian meddling in our election process about which all Americans should be concerned.
The second key point was that a Department of Justice policy holds that a sitting president can’t be charged with a federal crime and so he was precluded from charging Trump with obstruction. However, Mueller pointedly stated that if he was confident Trump clearly did not commit a crime, he would have said so.
In effect, he tossed to matter to Congress to determine if the evidence will lead to charges or impeachment.
Attorney General William P. Barr, of course, made his own comments about Mueller not definitively exonerating Trump in his conclusions on obstruction, continuing to defend the president. Meanwhile, Trump continues to claim that Mueller found no collusion and no obstruction and is disparaging Mueller even more vehemently than before.
Robert Mueller stated in his press briefing that this would be his final statement on the matter, that the report speaks for itself and if called before Congress to testify he would only reference the report and restate what is already known. There are some who agree that he no longer needs to testify, while others think Congress needs to hear more from him as soon as possible. Mueller’s press statement was powerful and any
appearance before Congress would surely make people take notice.
After all, not everyone is willing to read a report, but they will listen to the author conveying the information to them on television. Although public opinion currently does not favor impeachment of Trump, that could change once Congress begins the process. Before the televised impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon in 1974, public opinion was opposed to impeachment. Once people heard directly from the witnesses, his popularity took a nosedive.
Increasing numbers of Democrats in Congress and the 2020 presidential contenders are now calling for impeachment hearings to start. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still in the “let’s get our ducks in a row” stage. She has also publicly said she thinks Trump wants to be impeached because he knows the Senate will not convict him and he will then be able to play the victim card.
Robert Mueller is seen either as a hero or as someone who dodged an issue he should have pursued to a definitive conclusion. The bottom line is that the American people are growing tired and impatient with all of this.
Democrats are playing a risky political game by not being more forceful to get what they need to complete their investigations of this president’s obstruction of justice and other impeachable offenses. Pelosi says they couldfine people for ignoring a subpoena instead of saying they willbe fining them.
It’s time to get tough and move this to a conclusion instead of Democrats putting all their hopes into defeating Trump in 2020. Democracy and what the presidency will look like after the next election is at stake. They need to make the right choice for America’s future.
Susan Hutchinson, who for many years worked for a clinical diagnostics company, is now retired. She now writes and actively works for causes in which she believes.