Mueller’s Press Conference Stokes Partisan Fire
Following Robert Mueller’s press conference on the now completed Mueller Investigation, Republican and Democrat pundits are both correct on what happens next for President Donald J. Trump.
Robert Mueller’s press conference on Wednesday morning set off fireworks. However, it remains uncertain whether they will have the intended effect. That is partially due to the not insignificant confusion over what Robert Mueller intends to happen next.
On the surface, Mueller was the perfect professional. He spoke legalese in a way that covered his key points, and said almost nothing at all. Mueller also reiterated the findings in his reports, while leaving breadcrumbs that satisfied both those who support president Trump and those who are calling for his impeachment.
Important Statements at the Press Conference
The Republican and Democrat sides boil down to two quotes from this mornings press conference:
“We did not have enough evidence to convict” and
“If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so”
Mueller, in many ways, has punted responsibility for his investigation to other authorities: Congress and the Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice holds the responsibility of sorting through reports such as the Mueller Investigation and making a determination of whether or not to move forward with charges. William “Bill” Barr, as the attorney general, has made that determination and decided that they will not pursue charges. More specifically, Barr and Mueller seem to agree that neither has the ability to charge a sitting president with a crime- a long-held policy of the DOJ.
Delving into the Constitution
Mueller stated today, and Barr had previously noted a similar thought, that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.” In other words, someone else will have to pursue the President.
Enter the United States House of Representatives. Mueller took care in his press conference to note that his investigation did not conclude that Donald Trump was innocent of any wrongdoing. That opens the door for a separate and inevitable investigation by Congress. This time which could very well lead to impeachment or other consequences for President Trump.
Congress has the power to follow through on such an investigation, and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives seems happy to do so.
Whatever Mueller’s aim was in this press conference, from an outsiders perspective it appears self-serving. He won’t be held personally responsible for the impeachment of a sitting President. But, he has succeeded in further stoking the partisan fire that is causing some to speculate those proceedings are inevitable. Republicans cling to one sentence. They dig in their heels to protest that Donald Trump is exonerated because no charges have been filed. Meanwhile, the Democrat machine lurches into motion once again. For all his legalese, Mueller’s attempt to punt responsibility to other authorities, leaves his legacy in someone else’s control.