Dispatch May 29, 2019

Mueller Repeats His Impeachment Referral

The message of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s press conference today could not have been clearer: His report is an impeachment referral to Congress.

  • Mueller explicitly did not “exonerate” the president. Instead, he reiterated that Department of Justice policy constrained his office from charging a sitting president, or by extension even deeming a president guilty, but that, “if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
  • Mueller outlined why the investigation into obstruction of justice is so important. Mueller began and ended his conference by outlining Russia’s attack, and noted that investigating obstruction is “of paramount importance” because it threatened to impede our understanding of that attack.
  • Mueller also explained how the Trump team’s obstruction threatens the rule of law: “When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

The Mueller report documented widespread corruption, obstruction, and, yes, collusion. It shows that the Trump campaign knew before just about anybody else that Russia was attacking our democracy, and that, instead of trying to thwart that attack, aided and abetted it.

  • Trump’s campaign chairman and deputy campaign chairman continually shared internal polling data with a Russian agent, and discussed their strategy of focusing on the upper Midwest.
  • The Trump campaign had advance knowledge that Russia had stolen emails from Clinton’s campaign and would release them through WikiLeaks, and set up backchannels to WikiLeaks to exploit those releases. Trump himself was personally updated on those efforts.
  • All in all, Trump’s team had at least 251 secret contacts, including 37 meetings, with Kremlin-linked operatives during the campaign and transition, and did everything they could to hide them from investigators and from the American public.

In today’s statement, Mueller emphasized that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” That puts the ball in Congress’s court, and members of Congress from both parties must pick it up.