Robert Mueller Bids Farewell to the Troops

Robert Mueller Bids Farewell to the Troops

In a televised address, Robert S. Mueller III resigned as Justice Department Special Counsel and reiterated several points from his 480-page report on the 2016 presidential campaign. Most of his words emphasized Russia’s systematic interference in the election campaign, but he made a careful statement about the question of obstruction of justice by the chief executive:

“The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

” … under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited. A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider. The department’s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report, and I will describe two of them for you.

First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president, because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.

And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.

So that was Justice Department policy. Those were the principles under which we operated. And from them, we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime. That is the office’s final position, and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president. We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the attorney general, as required by department regulations.”

Read the full statement here.

That “process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing” is called “Impeachment.” Looks like Captain Mueller has given Congress its marching orders.


“Mueller, in First Comments on Russia Inquiry, Declines to Clear Trump.” Sharon LaFraniere and Eileen Sullivan, New York Times

“Robert Mueller breaks silence to insist he did not exonerate Trump,” David Smith, The Guardian

“Mueller says accusing Trump of a crime ‘not an option’ under Justice Dept. guidelines,” Matt Zapotosky ,
Devlin Barrett and Felicia Sonmez, Washington Post

“Mueller’s Remarks Put the Onus on Congress. So What Next?”, Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg

“Notoriously Tight-Lipped Georgetown Resident Tells Everyone To Read His Work, Leave Him Alone,” Rachel Kurzius, DCist


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Image by Mike Licht.  Download copies here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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