Robert Mueller investigated Donald Trump for more than two years, interviewed 500 witnesses, spent $30 million, and wrote a 448-page report about his investigation. After all that time, effort, and expense, he could not say that Trump had broken any laws. In the words of Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), it was a big “nothing burger.” Democrats and other never-Trumpers were irate and pledged to get Trump another way.
Democrat leaders in the U.S. House finally convinced Mueller to give sworn testimony to two different House committees. He defended his investigation before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Judiciary Committee. Lisa Mascaro at Associated Press (AP) wrote that Mueller’s testimony “sent the clearest signal yet that impeachment may be slipping out of reach for Democrats” and that the final verdict on Trump will be left to the voters in the 2020 Presidential Election.
Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal shared eight takeaways from Mueller’s appearance before Congress: First, he could not cite Department of Justice (DOJ) policy or principle on exonerating an individual because the “bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence” until proven guilty. Mueller did not prove that Trump was guilty of collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice.
Second, when questioned about the possibility of indicting a sitting president, Mueller said, “We did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”
Third, there was some confusion about whether “collusion” and “conspiracy” are synonymous terms. Mueller’s report says that they are, and he said that he would “leave it with the report.”
Fourth, numerous Democrats set the stage for Mueller to recommend impeachment, but Mueller declined to step into their trap. He “refused to state that impeachment was what the report means in referring to other venues to pursue evidence of obstruction of justice.” Representative Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) asked Chairman Nadler if “the point of this hearing [is] to get Mr. Mueller to recommend impeachment.” Nadler responded, “That is not a fair point of inquiry.”
Fifth, Mueller was asked when he made the decision to “put conspiracy to rest.” Mueller replied, “I can’t say when.”
Sixth, there were questions that Mueller refused to answer. Why did his team fail to prosecute Joseph Mifsud who told “George Papadopoulos that Moscow had some of Hillary Clinton’s emails? Did he interview Steele or Fusion GPS had Glenn Simpson? Did he read the Steele dossier? Did the Russian meddling sway the outcome of the presidential election? There were several other answered questions.
Seventh, Mueller defended the alleged conflicts that he created when he hired Democrat lawyers, many of whom donated to Democratic candidates, to work on the Trump case. He said that he never asks people about their political affiliation. “What I care about is the capability of the individual to do the job.”
Eighth, Mueller’s report said that “the Trump campaign was aware of Russian election meddling and expected to benefit from it.” What is the “new normal” for politicians’ responsibility to report hostile foreign powers trying to influence an election? Do they still have duty to report to the FBI or other authorities? Mueller replied, “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.”
The bottom line is that Mueller conducted his investigation of Donald Trump and could not find enough evidence that would convict Trump of collusion or obstruction of justice. He should have said so in his report because Trump should have been considered innocence until proven guilty. Mueller should not have written his report in the way that he did, and he should have confirmed more strongly before the Congressional Committees that there was not enough evidence to convict Trump. It was Mueller’s job to prove Trump was guilty or to set him free. He served up another big “nothing burger.”