Robert Mueller’s Statement: If President Trump Were Just “Mr. Trump”

On May 29, Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave his first public statement regarding the findings of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Now that Robert Mueller himself has spoken to the public about the investigation’s findings, little can be left to speculation as to what Mueller and his team discovered, or what they concluded.

Mueller started his ten-minute address with the reminder about why he was appointed: “The Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system…They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.”

Mueller cited the difficulty that the Justice Department had at times with obtaining information from those who were questioned during the investigation.

“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 the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

Robert Mueller stopped short of saying explicitly that Donald Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice. 

In the case of Mueller’s report on the investigation, which was released on April 18, 2019, Attorney General William Barr chose to interpret the findings as indicating that there was no basis for charging Trump with obstruction of justice. 

Mueller did not, however, state that his team had found no basis for charging  Trump. What Mueller said was that they “did not make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.” 

Some Trump supporters pounced on “did not make a determination” as a declaration of Trump’s innocence. 

But in his address, Robert Mueller said, “The order appointing me Special Counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. … As set forth in the report, after that investigation if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Mueller went on to explain why he didn’t go further. It was not because the Justice Department had found no evidence of wrongdoing.

“Under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited. The 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.”

As one legal expert, Jessica Levinson, law professor at Loyola Law school said, “If we were talking about Mr. Trump, not President Trump, we’d be talking about an indictment for obstruction of justice.”

Robert Mueller is leaving it up to Congress to enforce the obstruction of justice statute regarding Trump and his efforts to impede the Russia investigation. 

WATCH: Robert Mueller makes 1st public statement on Russia probe | 
PBS NewsHour [2019-05-29]

Trump reacts to Mueller’s Russia probe statement in angry tirade | 
Fox News [2019-05-30]

George Papadapoulos First Trump Campaign Member to Be Sentenced

As the Justice Department’s “fake investigation” uncovers real lawbreakers, a judge has sentenced George Papadapoulos to 14 days in prison. Papadapoulos, a former member of the foreign policy advisory panel during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was found guilty of lying to investigators about his contact with individuals associated with Russia during Trump’s campaign. George Papadapoulos, in fact, became a catalyst for the start of the Russia investigation.

Papadapoulos is the first staff member of the Trump campaign to be sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He was arrested in 2017, and pleaded guilty last October to lying to investigators.

George Papadapoulos’ contacts with Russia operatives came to light during a drunken conversation in a London bar with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. Over drinks, Papadapoulos bragged that he had been told that Russia had thousands of stolen emails with political “dirt” that could damage Hilary Clinton’s campaign for president.

A couple of months after Papadapoulos’ conversation with the Australian diplomat, leaked Democrat emails began to surface. At that point, the Australian government passed the information to the U.S. government about Papadapoulos’ claims.

Though it’s clear that Papadapoulos boasted about his knowledge of emails that could damage the Clinton campaign, he maintains that he didn’t tell anyone in the Trump campaign about the emails. Or rather, he maintains that his memory tells him that he didn’t.

Papadapoulos and his lawyers insist that Papadapoulos’ intentions were not as “sinister” as the Justice Department has implied. They portray Papadapoulos as a young man who simply aspired to advance his career by looking good in front of his boss.  The sentencing memo reads that Papadapoulos had “…Misled investigators to save his professional aspirations and preserve a perhaps misguided loyalty to his master.”

When the possibility that Papadapoulos’ associations with Russia could incriminate the Trump administration in the Russia investigation, it quickly dismissed its relationship with Papadapoulos. Trump’s staff began referring to Pappadapoulos as a “coffee boy.” Sarah Sanders claimed, regarding Papadapoulos’ position, “No activity was ever done in an official capacity.”

As with others who have put themselves in compromising positions in the service of Donald Trump, the Trump administration has in turn allowed George Papadapoulos to slide under the bus. One might be tempted to tweet  the now familiar “SAD,” until remembering that George Papadapoulos’ ambition is probably a lot more than just that of an ambitious young thing with “misguided loyalty to his master.”

Ex-Trump campaign aide gets 14 days in prison | CNN [2018-09-07]

George Papadopoulos sentenced to 14 days in prison | Fox News [2018-09-07]