Trump claims exoneration by Mueller report, Democrats charge obstruction

The Mueller report was published with an uncertain conclusion.

By OMRI NAHMIAS
April 19, 2019 02:31
3 minute read.
The picture President Donald Trump tweeted in response to the release of the Mueller report

The picture President Donald Trump tweeted in response to the release of the Mueller report. (photo credit: DONALD TRUMP'S TWITTER PAGE)

 
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WASHINGTON – Ending months of expectation and speculation, the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was finally published on Thursday creating a political thunderstorm in Washington, with Democrats claiming that the document’s 448 pages proved that Trump obstructed the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and Republicans claiming it exonerated the president from colluding with Moscow.

Both sides are preparing to use the report as a political weapon ahead of the 2020 election.

The Special Counsel wrote that, “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

For Trump, the most crucial determination in the report is that there was no conspiracy with Russia. The report describes, however, a consistent effort by Russia to help Trump win the 2016 election, mostly on social media.

In brief remarks at the White House on Thursday, Trump said that he is “having a good day,” adding, “there was no collusion, no obstruction. This should never happen to another president again, this hoax.”

As for obstruction of justice, Mueller wrote that he examined 10 different cases of possible obstruction and was “unable to conclude that no criminal conduct occurred.”

The Special Counsel left the decision to Congress: “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 the authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.”

Moreover, the report states that the fact that no decision has been made regarding the obstruction case, it does not necessarily exonerate the president.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report stated. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Mueller described several occasions in which Trump asked aides to take actions that would affect the investigation, but they refused.


“The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report said.

In one occasion, the report described, the president asked White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, allegedly due to conflict of interest, but he refused to follow the president’s directive and threatened to resign.

The report also revealed that when then-attorney-general Jeff Sessions told Trump in May 2017 that his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appointed Mueller as special counsel, the president was stunned.

“Oh my God,” Trump said, according to the report. “This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f***ed.”

It also mentioned that Trump was mad at Sessions for recusing himself from handling the investigation, and asked him, “How could you let this happen, Jeff?” According to the report, the president told Sessions that he was supposed to protect him.

“Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels, it ruins your presidency,” Trump was quoted as saying in the report. “It takes years and years, and I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

Jerry Nadler, House Judiciary Committee Chairman (D-NY), said in a news conference that he would issue a subpoena for the full, non-redacted report.

“We will probably hold a series of hearings on topics related to the report,” Nadler said on Thursday. “We want the entire report.”•

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