Focus on Congress
From the office of Rep. Val Demings
On Wednesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke for the first time about the contents and context of his report.
Said Rep. Demings, “The president’s false claim that he has been exonerated is not true. In fact, Special Counsel Mueller, who rarely speaks in public, wrote letters and called today’s press conference to make absolutely sure that the American people fully understand that he did not clear the president of criminal activity.
“Mr. Mueller found that Russia attacked our election, and President Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack. The Mueller Report documented 11 instances of obstruction of justice, but Mr. Mueller was barred from criminally charging the president for his corruption and criminal cover-up. President Trump and his collaborators, five of whom have pleaded or been found guilty of federal crimes, sold out our country for their own gain.
“This is a challenging time for our country, but also a great opportunity. Congress must secure our elections against future interference and hold President Trump accountable. Our families, freedoms, and futures depend on building a country where the rule of law matters. Our republic is a fragile thing, but worth protecting. We have a chance in the coming months to prove that in America, truth, justice, and accountability really do matter.”
Rep. Demings has previously explained her position on opening impeachment hearings.
Special Counsel Mueller, in his statement today, said, “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.”
Mr. Mueller went on to explain that “under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” and that “it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution.”
As such, “charging the president with a crime [or accusing him of one] was therefore not an option we could consider.”
However, Mr. Mueller explained that investigating the president was still important, and he laid out two reasons why.
- “…that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.” Indeed, five of the president’s close associates, including his Campaign Manager, Deputy Campaign Manager, National Security Advisor, and personal lawyer, have now been found guilty or pleaded guilty to federal crimes, and President Trump’s personal lawyer implicated the president in those crimes.
- “…the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” In other words, any effort to hold a president accountable is the responsibility of Congress, and Congress needs evidence of wrongdoing in order to proceed.
Selected Mueller Report Excerpts
Vol 1, Pg. 1: “Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”
Vol 1, Pg. 1: “the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, [and] the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts…”
Vol 1, Pg. 5: “The presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign” or “Campaign”) showed interest in WikiLeaks ‘s releases of documents and welcomed their potential to damage candidate Clinton.”
Vol 1, Pg. 9: “the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.”
Vol 1, Pg. 9: “some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated—including some associated with the Trump Campaign—deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records.”
Vol 2, Pg. 1: a traditional prosecution or declination decision entails a binary determination to initiate or decline a prosecution, but we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment…The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that ‘the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President’ [is impermissible].”
Vol 2, Pg. 2: “we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgement that the President committed crimes,” because it was unfair to “potentially [reach] that judgement when no charges can be brought.”
Vol 2, Pg. 2: “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. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgement.”
Vol 2, Pg. 8: “Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice…The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”
Vol 2, Pg. 76: “the President had a motive to put the FBI’s Russia investigation behind him…the evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns.”
Vol 2, Pg. 78: “According to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel had been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.’ The President became angry and lambasted the Attorney General for his decision to recuse from the investigation, stating, ‘How could you let this happen, Jeff?’ The President said the position of Attorney General was his most important appointment and that Sessions had ‘let [him] down,’ contrasting him to Eric Holder and Robert Kennedy. Sessions recalled that the President said to him, ‘you were supposed to protect me,’ or words to that effect.”
Vol 2, Pg. 154: “The evidence concerning this sequence of events could support an inference that the President used inducements in the form of positive messages in an effort to get Cohen not to cooperate, and then turned to attacks and intimidation to deter the provision of information or undermine Cohen’s credibility once Cohen began cooperating.”
Vol 2, Pg. 157: “Our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations. The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels.”