Special Counsel Robert Mueller held a rare press conference that reiterated his 448-page report, stating plainly that his investigation could not clear Donald Trump and that charging a sitting president was never an option that his office could consider.
“If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
He also announced today that he was closing the special counsel’s office and resigning from the Justice Department. Mueller carefully laid out a road map of how the investigation played out and the possible steps Congress could take to hold Trump accountable.
According to CNN, Mueller highlighted how the “Constitution requires a process other than” the criminal justice system to hold officeholders accountable, a clear signal that his obstruction investigation into Trump could be picked up by Congress.
The House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, whose committee would lead impeachment proceedings, said in a statement that Congress should now respond to Mueller’s findings.
“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,” Nadler said. “No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law.”
There is already growing talk amongst the Democratic presidential candidates immediately calling for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry.
“Bob Mueller was essentially referring impeachment to the United States Congress,” said California Sen. Kamala Harris.
“Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately,” tweeted Sen. Cory Booker.
While House Democrats have been eager to have Mueller testify about his findings publicly, he is essentially telling politicians far and wide that the report is his testimony.
“I hope and expect this will be the only time I will speak to you in this manner,” he said during his press conference.
“It’s important the office’s written work speaks for itself,” Mueller said about his report, which was delivered in March to Attorney General William Barr. “The report is my testimony.”
The Justice Department released a redacted version of the special counsel’s report last month. The report detailed numerous cases in which Trump asked his aides to take actions that would have obstructed the investigation but stated they were unsuccessful only because the aides themselves refused his orders.
Mueller’s statement, which was delivered amid political disputes about the findings of Mueller’s investigation, particularly regarding whether Trump obstructed justice, strongly conflicted Trump’s claims that he has been completely exonerated and strongly emphasized that the special counsel’s indictments revealed how the Russians “launched a concerted attack on our political system.”