Mueller finally spoke! My thoughts on this are contained in three sections: what he said; unanswered questions; and thoughts on Muller.
What he Said
- He found extensive efforts on the part of the Russian government to influence the 2016 election for Trump.
- There were extensive contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russians working to interfere in the 2016 election.
- None of those contacts resulted in enough evidence to charge anyone with criminal conspiracy.
- Mueller believed Office of legal Counsel opinions rendered during the Nixon and Clinton administrations prevented him from indicting a sitting president.
- Since Muller believed he couldn’t indict Trump, he felt would have been unfair to comment about Trump’s possible criminality.
- Mueller reminded everyone he would have cleared the president of obstructing justice if the evidence would have allowed it.
- Mueller wanted certain portions of his report released to the public, but Attorney General William Barr waited to release a redacted version of the entire report. Muller said he believed Barr was acting in good faith when he waited to release the redacted report.
- Mueller doesn’t want to speak to Congress. He said his report is his testimony.
Speaking as someone who has read Mueller’s report, I know there are several important questions it doesn’t answer. This is because Congress has more to consider than its oversight of the president and Russian interference into the 2016 election. Congress must also do oversight into Barr’s performance as attorney general. Congress must also consider whether witnesses lied to Congress and the American people.
For those reasons, the public must hear from Muller during a Congressional hearing. The significance of the moment demands the person who knows more about the involved issues than anyone tell the American public his findings and thoughts in a setting that will better ensure a large percentage of the population than will ever read the report can access.
Here are some of the questions Mueller must answer. They aren’t presented in any particular order.
- Do you personally believe Donald Trump obstructed justice?
- Since intent is a critical element of proving obstruction, why did you agree to let Trump refuse to answer questions about obstruction?
- When you determined Trump’s written answers to the questions about conspiracy were inadequate, why did you avoid pressing Trump for an interview?
- Why didn’t you force Donald Trump Jr. to answer questions?
- Which actual or potential witnesses used encrypted devices?
- Were you surprised when Barr determined in his March 24th letter that Trump hadn’t obstructed Justice?
- As the former director of the FBI and someone who knows tons about the origination of the investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, do you support Barr’s decision to investigate members of the FBI?
- Prior to his letter of March 24th, did you notify Barr you believed you were bound by the Office of Legal Counsel opinions and couldn’t state whether the president had committed a crime?
Thoughts on Mueller
Mueller has been a huge disappointment. With so much hanging in the balance, Muller’s lack of courage has allowed Trump, Barr, and almost every Republican to lie about the report Mueller wants everyone to accept as his only testimony. By allowing his work to be discredited without a strong rebuttal, Mueller has made it harder to build the public case for impeachment that is needed.
For more than two years, the story is how Muller is an upstanding guy. He is beyond reproach. In the end, Muller is a guy stuck in the ’50s who lacks the courage to do what America needs from him in 2019.
The Office of Legal Counsel Opinions Muller is hiding behind were never ruled on by a court. Both the Nixon and Clinton administrations had selfish reasons to decide a sitting president couldn’t be indicted. But even if Mueller truly believes a sitting president can’t be indicted, or if he believes he was bound by those opinions, those opinions don’t prevent Mueller from sharing his thoughts on criminal conduct. If Mueller was willing to say the president hadn’t obstructed justice, he should have been just as willing to say the president had obstructed justice. The idea that the most quoted person in the world wouldn’t have a platform to defend himself from what Muller may have said is a weak argument.
It’s time for Mueller to rise to the moment. America needs the truth–not someone who values institution more than truth.