In case you missed it this morning, Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke for roughly ten minutes this morning providing his first public statement on the Russia collusion investigation since May of 2017.
Here’s the full video of Mueller’s statement delivered around 11 am ET Wednesday morning at the Department of Justice:
Mueller reiterated that his findings in the already-released 400-page report were the extent of his comments and that this would be the last time he would speak publicly on the investigation. He did, however, leave some doors open for Democrats to latch on to with regard to whether Mueller could have or should have charged President Trump with obstruction of justice.
Mueller emphasized that due to longstanding Department of Justice guidelines about not indicting a sitting President, he was unable to issue a determination that the President had, in fact, obstructed justice. On the flipside, he also could not say that the President hadn’t obstructed justice. The differentiation is key for the President’s opponents who will point out that Mueller’s statement sounded an awful lot like he was implying that had it not been for the DoJ guidelines, Trump, perhaps, could have been charged with obstruction.
2020 Democrats immediately take notice
Reaction from Donald Trump’s 2020 Democratic opponents began pouring in just minutes after the Mueller press conference concluded:
Sen. Cory Booker tweeted that impeachment proceedings should begin immediately:
Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) May 29, 2019
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that not only does Mueller’s statement do more than imply the President committed a crime, Warren argues that Mueller practically drew Congress an impeachment map:
Mueller leaves no doubt:
1) He didn't exonerate the president because there is evidence he committed crimes.
2) Justice Department policy prevented him from charging the president with any crimes.
3) The Constitution leaves it up to Congress to act—and that's impeachment.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) May 29, 2019
Sen. Kamala Harris said that Mueller’s statement amounts to an “impeachment referral” and that, in her opinion, it’s time for Congress to take up the mantle and begin impeachment immediately as a constitutional duty:
What Robert Mueller basically did was return an impeachment referral. Now it is up to Congress to hold this president accountable.
We need to start impeachment proceedings. It's our constitutional obligation.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 29, 2019
Julian Castro also echoed his 2020 Democratic colleagues in calling for the commencement of impeachment proceedings:
Mueller made clear this morning that his investigation now lays at the feet of Congress. No one is above the law—Congress should begin an impeachment inquiry.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) May 29, 2019
Several candidates, including Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg have not yet spoken publicly or released a statement on the matter.
Trump’s GOP opponents also sound off
On the other side of the aisle, or perhaps in another part of the aisle, libertarian-leaning Republican Congressman Justin Amash also gently pushed the impeachment narrative by saying that Mueller’s statement, and conclusion of the investigation, now puts the ball in Congress’ court:
The ball is in our court, Congress. https://t.co/idpQo1xItH
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 29, 2019
Amash has been continuing to ponder a third-party run for president on the Libertarian Party ticket. He’s also continued to attack and criticize the President and Attorney General William Barr for the handling of the Mueller report.
President Trump responds
The official White House response came via Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
White House Statement on Mueller statement today: pic.twitter.com/f5TXzf3Qpd
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) May 29, 2019
The President also wasted no time in directly responding and pointing out that Robert Mueller’s statement essentially mirrors everything already released concerning the special counsel report on Russian collusion:
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
Mueller’s statement leaves many open questions since he has now said he will no longer be speaking publicly on this matter. It’s still possible Mueller could get subpoenaed to testify on Capitol Hill, however, Mueller stated that if he is compelled to testify, he wouldn’t be speaking beyond the information already contained in his report.
One thing is for certain, and that is that the impeachment talk will continue as long as it’s politically expedient for the President’s opponents to keep the narrative alive.