Mueller announced his resignation as he addressed the nation for the first time since becoming special counsel and leading the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He reiterated his office’s conclusion that, although it did not charge the president with a crime, its report did not exonerate him, either.
“Effectively what Bob Mueller said is we had evidence that [Trump] committed a crime, but we couldn’t charge him because he’s the president of the United States,” Napolitano said on the Fox Business Network following the news conference. “That opens the door for the Democrats to pounce.”
Napolitano was referring to Mueller saying Wednesday that a sitting president cannot be charged with a federal crime, so charging the president with a crime was not something his office could consider.
The Fox News legal analyst also said Mueller’s comments were “180 degrees” from Attorney General William Barr’s four-page letter on the report’s principal conclusion, which he sent to Congress on March 24 after first reviewing the report from investigators.
“Is it that bad?” Fox Business host Stuart Varney asked Napolitano.
“I think so,” Napolitano said. “I think basically [Mueller is] saying the president can’t be indicted, otherwise we would have indicted him, and we’re not going to charge him with a crime because there’s no forum for him to refute the charges. But we could not say that he didn’t commit a crime. Fill in the blank, because we believe he did.”
Mueller’s news conference was “hurtful to the president,” Napolitano concluded.
Watch his full comments in the video above.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified Fox Business host Stuart Varney.