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the report

Mueller Comes Up Short of Expectations

Those who think no one should be above the law are more than disappointed that Robert Mueller followed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) guideline that a sitting president should not be indicted, and therefore came to no conclusion that the president had committed a crime despite Mueller's own overwhelming 10-count list of Trump's obstructions of justice. It's the limited scope he adopted, not any deficiency of evidence he found, that is meant by the report stating, "The evidence we obtained about the president's actions and intent present difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment".

The beginning of the report's obstruction section goes further, saying that, even if Mueller thought there was evidence that could implicate Trump and call him a criminal, it would be unfair to do so because the president would have no opportunity to defend himself. He is referring to a man who has had the liberty to defend himself with a daily fusillade on Twitter during his entire presidency.

Mueller's reticence feeds into the meme put forth by Republican Congress members and guest prosecutors on Fox talk shows who say that Mueller should not have even put forth the ten instances of obstruction, because the Prosecutor Creed (our caps) is either to bring charges, or if evidence is insufficient, stay silent. It's "maddening that dirt gets out with no chance to defend yourself", said one.

Which is to say there should have been no obstruction section in the report at all, never mind that this was not a prosecution. It was a mandate to Mueller to produce his findings, not to turn in blank pages and say "sorry, couldn't find anything".

Their other argument is that there can be no obstruction if there is no underlying crime, which implausibly says that an investigation to determine whether or not a crime has been committed can be freely obstructed without its being obstruction.

And then there is Attorney General Barr saying that a president cannot obstruct justice because he or she is the boss of the justice department in control of deciding what gets investigated. Barr's interpretation therefore is that a president is free to block an investigation of self.

Mueller has handed the job to Congress to determine what, if anything, should be done, having made clear that,

"If we had confidence after a thorough examination 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...While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him".

Mueller does seem to urge action, stating, "With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice". He had the weapon in hand but he couldn't pull the trigger.

1 Comment for “Mueller Comes Up Short of Expectations”

  1. Superb piece – thank you!

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