Answering a series of questions from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, former special counsel Robert Mueller confirmed that his report on Russian election interference and Trump’s alleged attempts to obstruct his nearly two-year investigation, did not “totally exonerate” President Donald Trump as the president has frequently claimed.
“The finding indicates that the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed,” Mueller confirmed to lawmakers on Wednesday.
“The president has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him,” Nadler said to Mueller. “But that is not what your report said, is it?”
“Correct,” Mueller said, “that is not what the report said.”
“Reading from page 2 of Volume 2 of your report that’s on the screen,” Nadler said, “you wrote, quote, ‘If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment,’ close quote. Now, does that say there was no obstruction?”
Mueller agreed, rejecting Trump’s assertions that his report exonerated him from all charges of obstruction.
“In fact,” Nadler continued, “you were actually unable to conclude the president did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct?”
“Well, at the outset,” Mueller replied, “we determined that when it came to the president’s culpability, we needed to go forward only after taking into account the [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion that indicated a sitting president cannot be indicted.”
“So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice?” Nadler asked. “Is that correct?”
“That is correct,” the former special counsel said.
“What about total exoneration?” Nadler continued. “Did you actually totally exonerate the president?”
“No,” Mueller said.
“Now, in fact, your report expressly states that it does not exonerate the president,” Nadler said.
“It does,” Mueller replied.
“Your investigation actually found, quote, ‘multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian interference and obstruction investigations,’ is that correct?” Nadler asked.
“Correct,” Mueller confirmed.
Nadler later asked if it was true that “under Department of Justice policy, the president could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice crimes after he leaves office.”
Mueller said that was “true.”
The president previously tweeted: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”
No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2019