The Department of Justice and the Special Counsel’s office released a joint statement late on Wednesday to clarify remarks made earlier in the day at a press conference by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Kerri Kupec, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice and Peter Carr, spokesman for the Special Counsel’s Office, released the following statement:
The Attorney General has previously stated that the Special Counsel repeatedly affirmed that he was not saying that, but for the OLC opinion, he would have found the President obstructed justice. The Special Counsel’s report and his statement today made clear that the office concluded it would not reach a determination – one way or the other – about whether the President committed a crime. There is no conflict between these statements.
Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro wrote an analysis of Mueller’s press conference, which included the following point: Mueller’s Investigation Never Should Have Included Obstruction by Trump.
“Unlike the election interference investigation, which began as a counterintelligence investigation inside the FBI, the obstruction investigation began as a criminal investigation – and a criminal investigation that Mueller admits he never had the authority to conclude,” Shapiro wrote. “Mueller stated regarding Russian interference, ‘It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.’ That would be true of Trump’s associates. That would not be true of Trump himself – Mueller recognizes that he never had the authority to indict a sitting president.”
“[U]nder longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” Mueller said. “That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited. A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”
Shapiro continued, writing:
Yet Mueller proceeded to write two hundred pages about Trump himself, and his conduct. This means that Mueller spent tens of millions of dollars and years of time investigating unindictable conduct. So what the hell was he doing? Mueller provided two separate explanations for the investigation of Trump’s conduct: first, he said, the investigation was permitted because it is “important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available.” Evidence of what, though? A crime? But Mueller refused to allege a crime. So evidence of something — something that wasn’t prosecutable right now, and that Mueller refused to suggest amounted to a crime for the future. Mueller himself said the investigation was justified because perhaps it would have resulted in evidence that “could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.” But Mueller didn’t charge co-conspirators in obstruction. This is bizarre, at least.
Mueller’s second justification is more obvious: he essentially said he was doing Congress’ impeachment groundwork for them. “The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Mueller stated. This is an invitation to impeachment.
But that’s not Mueller’s job. He is a member of the executive branch. He is not an independent counsel. He is not a legislative investigator. A criminal investigation that cannot possibly result in charges is a conflict in terms. Mueller never should have agreed to such an investigation under the law, and Mueller’s own standard makes that clear.