In just under ten minutes, Robert Mueller was the shock heard around the world. In a surprising last-minute announcement this morning that Mueller would speak publicly for the first time in 2 years, news outlets went wild. Why isn’t he taking any questions? Does the White House know? What is the meaning behind his timing? Now that he has spoken, we are all recovering from the aftershock.
While William Barr and President Trump are out of town traveling, Mueller gave what he said is his last statement on the matter because he does not believe “it is appropriate for me to speak further,” and “there has been discussion about testimony before Congress” but that he “will not go beyond this report. The report is my testimony. I would not provide any more information than is in the report.”
Political analysts are already debating as to the repercussions of Mueller’s statement. Some believe that his emphasis on mentioning that there was evidence for obstruction of justice and Russian interference will supercharge the Democrats and calls for impeachment. However, others are saying it is imperative to note that Mueller’s statement did not include anything we didn’t already know. President Trump’s Attorney, Rudy Giuliani, responded on Fox News without concern. Giuliani said all Mueller did was “basically repeated his report. It’s a five-minute version of his report.” Republicans and analysts agree, that everything Mueller said was in fact in the report and the most important takeaway is this statement: “our conclusion is that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.” The ultimate question: did Mueller’s statement change anything?
Mueller began his statement saying “two years ago the acting Attorney General asked me to serve as special counsel” and “investigate Russian interference in the 2016 elections. I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I am speaking out today because our investigation is complete” and they are “formally closing the special counsel’s office” and finally that he will “return to private life.”
Mueller mentioned, as the report noted, that Russians used techniques to damage our political system, such as using WikiLeaks and posing as American citizens and launching social media campaigns. Here is a summarization of the outstanding statements:
“There was INSUFFICIENT Evidence to Charge a Larger Conspiracy”
“The report has two parts…the first volume details efforts from Russians to influence the election…our conclusion is that there was insufficient evidence to charge a larger conspiracy” As for the “second volume – we did not make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime…Department policy is a present president cannot be charged with a federal crime while in office…charging the president, therefore, was not an option we could consider.” While opinion “permits investigation of a sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh” and the “constitution requires a process other than criminal justice system to accuse a president of wrongdoing.” Therefore, with the Justice Department policy, they would “not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime. That is our conclusion and I will not further comment.”
Robert Mueller ended his statement thanking the attorneys, FBI analysts and staff who contributed to the investigation in what he called a “fair” manner and they “were of the highest integrity.” His final statement was “there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.” It will be interesting as we sit and watch the comments and reactions flood in from leadership of both parties and whether or not Mueller will be subpoenaed.