WASHINGTON ― Special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report is finally out and one conclusion was pretty clear: He found evidence that President Donald Trump may have obstructed justice, he could not clear the president of “criminal conduct” and he left the door wide open for Congress to investigate.
Here’s the key paragraph buried in the 400-plus page report:
[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.
But Republican leaders on Thursday rushed to say everything is fine since Mueller didn’t find sufficient evidence to state that the Trump campaign conspired with Russian officials to win the 2016 presidential election.
“Today’s release of the Special Counsel’s report confirms what the President and I have said since day one: there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and there was no obstruction of justice,” Vice President Mike Pence falsely claimed in a statement. “After two years of investigation, conducted with the full cooperation of this Administration, that involved hundreds of witness interviews and millions of pages of documents, the American people can see for themselves: no collusion, no obstruction.”
“Nothing we saw today changes the underlying results of the 22-month long Mueller investigation that ultimately found no collusion,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in his statement. “It is time to move on. ... I urge our Democratic colleagues in the House to put their emotions and opinions aside, and instead use that passion to come to the table and work on real solutions for all Americans.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Democrats owe an apology to Americans “for misleading them and the press” about Mueller’s investigation.
“Now that the Mueller Report has formally been released, two things are abundantly clear: There was no collusion with Russia, and there was no obstruction of justice,” Scalise claimed in a statement.
Republican National Committee officials came up with even more creative spin: they called the report “a shocking indictment” of President Barack Obama’s response to Russia election interference.
If any of them had actually read the report, they would have discovered that Mueller found evidence of crimes outside the scope of his investigation and made 14 criminal referrals to other jurisdictions. They would have found that Mueller laid the constitutional groundwork for Congress to impeach Trump, if it chooses to go that route. They would have learned that Trump’s efforts to hamper Mueller’s probe were mostly unsuccessful due largely to the people around the president refusing to carry out his orders.
For his part, Trump responded to the report’s release by saying he’s “having a good day” and claiming “no obstruction.” His reelection campaign promptly released a video montage of Democrats talking about Mueller’s probe and called for an investigation into the people who investigated Trump.
“President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated yet again,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in an objectively false statement. “Now that the collusion and obstruction conspiracy theories have been exposed for the pathetic hoaxes they always were, the Obama-era DOJ and FBI must answer for their misdeeds and the scam that they perpetrated against the American people.”