If you were one of those people who cheered Special Counsel Robert Mueller because you thought he cleared the president of all wrongdoing, you will probably go back to hating him now, because he just told the American people President Trump is not an innocent man. But because of the Justice Department’s rule that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, he was unable to take any legal action against him.
Make no mistake, if Donald Trump was not the president of the United States it’s very possible, if not likely, that he would be under indictment. But Mueller made an important point that likely impacted how the investigation was handled because, in his words, “charging the president with a crime was not an option we could consider.” He was also very quick to add, however, “If we had evidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” The question is whether leads that could have proven wrongdoing or could have cleared the president’s name were followed or ignored because Mueller couldn’t have taken legal action based on that declaration.
Two things here. First, Mueller’s comments were a call to action aimed squarely at Congress. Second, the Justice Department has some explaining to do.
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First, it is clear Mueller thinks the president did something wrong but feels his hands were tied legally. That’s a separate debate altogether. In the Justice Department’s view, the only people who can investigate and hold the president accountable for any potential wrongdoing is the United States Congress. While I still think going directly to impeachment is not the way to go, it is time for Congress to quickly ramp up its investigation into President Trump, his campaign, and his administration.
Russia clearly interfered in our elections, now the question remains whether President Trump did anything to obstruct the federal investigation into that interference. Americans had hoped the Mueller investigation would provide answers to those questions but, as we learned today, that was never a priority for Mueller, because he couldn’t do anything about it. He could only use any information he obtained to charge and convict co-conspirators.
Second, the Justice Department owes the American people an explanation. While there was public debate about whether a sitting president could be indicted, the Justice Department never told the American people outright that investigating the president with the possibility of charging him with a crime was never an option. They kept us waiting for two years, as we expected the Mueller investigation to give us answers about the president’s potential wrongdoing. They should have leveled with us from the beginning.
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Yes, people surrounding the president were convicted, so that tells us something, but now the question lingers: Has justice fully been served? The only one who can answer that is Congress. And they need to get to work immediately and aggressively.
I’m not a liberal who wants the president to be impeached. I truly hope he did nothing wrong because it would be a national tragedy and an embarrassment for our country. But if he did, We the People deserve to know about it and he must be held accountable. If Mueller couldn’t do it, it’s time for the people and our representatives to act.
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