Just minutes after Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly for the first time in two years (and wants it to be the only time), President Donald Trump responded be on Twitter, sparking a flurry of other reactions. Here were some of the main takeaways from the speedy 11 a.m. press conference.
The President’s Response
Trump’s reaction was to say he’s “innocent.” “The case is closed! Thank you,” he tweeted.
Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2019
As many were quick to point out, this is not what Mueller said. Mueller actually said that if he was convinced that Trump did not commit a crime he would have said so; he also said that he could not indict a sitting a president, so charging Trump with a crime was “not an option.”
Mueller did not say there was insufficient evidence to charge you. He said that DOJ policy precluded him from doing so.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) May 29, 2019
We didn’t have the option to charge Trump with a crime.
If we could have cleared him of a crime we would have done so. We didn’t.
— Anthony DeRosa🗽 (@Anthony) May 29, 2019
Trump: No collusion.
Mueller: No evidence of a criminal conspiracy that could be charged.
Trump: No obstruction
Mueller: No. Plenty of evidence. But we could not indict because of DOJ policy.
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) May 29, 2019
Mueller didn’t say that there was not sufficient evidence to charge the president, he said he could not charge the president. Nor did Mueller fail to mention that impeachment is the constitutional remedy for remedying presidential wrongdoing.
House Democrats’ Response
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) took Mueller’s press conference to mean that it’s time for House Democrats to get serious about holding the president accountable.
“No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law,” Nadler said, “Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump — and we will do so.”
Chairman Nadler: “Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so.”
— Rick Klein (@rickklein) May 29, 2019
President Trump’s nemesis Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) offered a similar reaction: “The ball is in our court, Congress.”
The ball is in our court, Congress. https://t.co/idpQo1xItH
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 29, 2019
Other takeaways (What about Barr?):
Some have suggested that the real takeaway from all of this is that a president can “get away with breaking the law as long as his party controls Congress.”
The takeaway on obstruction is basically that a President can get away with breaking the law as long as his party controls Congress, and is made up largely of cowards. #MuellerReport
— Page Pate (@pagepate) May 29, 2019
Impeachment would start in the House, which is controlled by Democrats; the Senate is Republican-controlled, and would presumably shut down an impeachment effort.
Oh, yeah — and what about the differences between what Mueller said about his report and what AG William Barr did? Some, such as Fox News anchor Bret Baier, came away thinking that the differences were quite stark.
Over on Fox, @BretBaier calls Mueller's statement "striking" and notes it was "not anywhere clear cut" as AG Bill Bar initially characterized it. "In fact, it was almost the opposite," Baier said.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 29, 2019
Robert Mueller’s interpretation of his report is fundamentally different than what Bill Barr told us. I would suggest that between the two, Americans would be wise to trust the interpretation and integrity of the author of the report.
— Peter Wehner (@Peter_Wehner) May 29, 2019
[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]