Iowa’s U.S. senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both issued written statements on Wednesday following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s press conference. In his brief public remarks, Mueller stressed that his investigation found “Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.”
At the end of his nine-minute statement, Mueller repeated, “there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.” He added, “That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
Those efforts, the special counsel said, were undertaken “to damage a presidential candidate,” by which he meant Hillary Clinton. Mueller said the first volume of his two-volume report also “includes a discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.”
Mueller then spoke about the focus of the second volume: whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice in response to investigations of Russian actions in the 2016 campaign.
Department of Justice policy, which Mueller said he was legally obligated to follow, states that a sitting president cannot be charged with a criminal offense. Since a president cannot be charged, and therefore cannot establish in court that he is not guilty, it would not be appropriate to issue a conclusion that a president has committed a crime, Mueller explained.
That does not mean the investigation exonerated Trump, Mueller stressed: “As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”
According to Mueller, Justice Department policy is that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.” Impeachment is the only process to do that in the Constitution.
In the impeachment process, the House of Representative basically serves as a grand jury, voting for a bill of indictment against a president. The president then stands trial in the Senate, with the Chief Justice of the United States presiding over the procedure. The president is removed from office if a majority of senators vote “guilty” on any of the charges.
Both of Iowa’s senators are loyal Trump supporters, and neither seemed troubled by Mueller’s public statements on Wednesday.
In her written statement, Ernst didn’t mention Mueller’s remarks regarding Trump and obstruction of justice.
Mr. Mueller reiterated the conclusions of his nearly two year, multi-million dollar investigation which found that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. It’s time to move on. We need to focus on protecting our country from future attacks by Russia, and other bad actors.
Mueller, of course, did not say there was “no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.” He said “there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.” As the Mueller report documents, investigators found that evidence they wanted to review had been destroyed by the time they requested it.
Ernst has consistently, and incorrectly, maintained that the special counsel investigation failed to uncover anything significant.
“Two years of investigations have absolutely nothing to show for it,” she said during a November town hall meeting in Ames. At that time, Mueller’s office had already indicted or gotten guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies.
Grassley’s written statement was longer, but like Ernst, he called for investigations of Trump to end.
As Robert Mueller said today, the report speaks for itself. Attorney General Barr went above and beyond to make the report public, so anyone can read it for themselves. The plain facts remain that after more than two years and tens of millions spent investigating, Mueller’s team found no collusion and the President was charged with no crime. Mueller’s statements today reiterated the same facts outlined in the principle findings released by Attorney General Barr, and Mueller noted that Barr acted in good faith to release the report to the public.
The Justice Department has closed this case. Rather than re-litigating an exhaustive investigation, Congress should focus on important matters that effect [sic] the livelihoods of all Americans, like working to reach new trade agreements for U.S. producers and consumers and improving access to affordable prescription medications.
Grassley also commented on Mueller’s statement during a conference call with Iowa reporters on Wednesday.
“He’s right that you don’t prosecute a sitting a president, but you can indict a sitting president and then the day he leaves office you can take him to prosecution, and so that’s what Mueller should have done if he thought the president did something wrong,” Grassley said.
Actually, Mueller was very clear in his statement that he couldn’t do that.
“[U]nder long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” Mueller said on Wednesday. “That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view — that too is prohibited.”
Trump tweeted a statement following Mueller’s press conference that basically echoed Ernst’s and Grassley’s statements, albeit in his own style.
The Greatest Presidential Harassment in history. After spending $40,000,000 over two dark years, with unlimited access, people, resources and cooperation, highly conflicted Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019