Special Counsel Robert Mueller tendered his resignation to the Department of Justice, and he read a statement about the report bearing his name. A transcript of his statement, unredacted, appears at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/politics/mueller-transcript.html.
Mueller asked that the Report be allowed to speak for itself. Mueller restated that the first volume “details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election.” However, in the report the Mueller team found that there was “insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.”
Under the DOJ guidelines, the investigation of a sitting president is permitted to preserve evidence. However, because a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, Mueller concluded that it would be unfair to render a negative opinion in the Report. Mueller referred to Congress’ separate process – impeachment – to formally accuse a president of wrongdoing. It would be unfair to charge the president with a crime when there can be no court resolution on the subject. He added nevertheless that “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” Mueller is saying that they were not convinced that the president had not committed a crime.
Before closing the book on his Report, the outgoing Special Counsel took a moment to explain why in his judgment the investigation was no witch hunt.
“The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. And that is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office. That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”
The fact that the president was not charged with election interference did not negate the need for the investigation. In addition, it does not render meaningless efforts to impede the investigation.
Revolted Colonies began in 2010 as an outlet for its lawyer/author to comment on America’s cultural and political divisions, rather than opine on the law. However, the Trump presidency has been a lawyer’s goldmine in so many ways. It has become nearly impossible to talk about the politics without talking about Trump, or talking about Trump without mentioning lawyers and the law. For that reason, it is reassuring that, at the heart of the Mueller report, there is Mueller, doing the work of a lawyer: clearheadedly ascertaining facts and applying the law. There is something satisfying, to this lawyer at least, that Mueller did not become politicized or allow his work to be affected by the political tempest buffeting him.