In a statement that lasted approximately nine minutes, Robert Mueller spoke publicly for the first time in two years. He declared his two-year role as special counsel is at an end and stated the Special Counsel’s office is officially closing. Robert Mueller is resigning from the DOJ and returning to private life.
Robert Mueller, a former Marine who served in Vietnam and who was appointed by George W. Bush as FBI director one week before 9/11, was called back to duty to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any role the Trump campaign might have played in that interference.
Mueller’s investigation and role as special counsel might be over, but he leaves behind a legacy that will be discussed for years to come.
In regards to the president’s conduct, Mueller’s statement today was direct. He said, “If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that” and he pointed out that office’s written work, (i.e the 448-page report) should speak for itself. Any intellectually honest individual who watched Mueller speak today would have to conclude that Mueller’s comments were not favorable to President Trump and that, minus the DOJ policy prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president, Donald J Trump would be indicted on criminal charges.
Furthermore, Mueller left the door open for President Trump to be indicted when he leaves office, by saying, “it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available”. He also made it quite clear that his job as an investigator and prosecutor in the matter is over and the issue is now up to Congress to decide.
Charlie Sykes summarized Mueller’s comments by saying, “No hoax, no witch hunt, no coup, no exoneration… Ball in your court, Congress”.
Mueller has done us all a favor by reminding us that this was always, as citizens of the United States, up to us to handle. Prosecuting a sitting president was never in the cards, regardless of how deserved an indictment is or how desired by many. Removal of a president was intentionally made challenging by the founders. It was always meant to be a thing done in broad daylight and not in shadows; done with the will of the people behind it and with the force of justice driving it. Because it is a political act, it is up to us. Or rather, Congress, for us. Mueller’s job is done; ours’ and our representatives’ is just beginning.
But Mueller focused on more than Donald Trump today. He began and ended with the impetus of his whole investigation: Russian interference into our electoral process.
He pointed out, in measured tones, the actions of Russian military officers who participated in a “concerted attack on our political system” in which they hacked into Clinton campaign computers and networks by way of “sophisticated cyber techniques”. Their actions, spelled out in the indictment, were “timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate”. Mueller explained that these actions of Russian operatives must be investigated and understood and that the matters he and his team investigated were of “paramount importance”.
Mueller closed his lengthy statement by circling back around to Russia by reiterating the findings of the indictment: “There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
Regardless of what the president and his associates did, the central issue is that Russia interfered in our electoral process and they will do it again. Every American who cares about the integrity of our democratic institution will take all steps necessary to prevent a future Russia cyberattack on our elections. The president of the United States has refused to acknowledge the findings of the intelligence community in regards to the Russians goal to harm his opponent and help him but Americans of both parties must put aside partisan bickering to ensure this never happens again.
Robert S. Mueller III has ended his government service and the Russia Investigation in the most fitting way possible: By warning us that the Russians will continue to attack our electoral system if allowed and reminding us that it is up to us to stop them.
A grateful nation must take up the challenge Mueller has left us.