Thursday, April 18, 2019
Mueller was unable to 'conclusively determine' no criminal conduct occurred
Special counsel Robert Mueller said in his long-awaited report that he was unable to “conclusively determine” during the course of his investigation that no criminal conduct occurred in regards to whether President Trump obstructed justice.
Mueller’s investigators wrote that they were “unable” to say definitively that Trump did not commit an obstruction of justice offense because of “difficult issues” presented by the evidence collected over the course of their nearly two-year probe, as stated in a redacted version of the special counsel’s closing documentation released by the Justice Department Thursday.
“[I]f 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,” the report states.
“The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” it states.
Attorney General William Barr previously said that Mueller did not come to a conclusion one way or another on whether Trump obstructed the investigation. Instead, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said they reviewed the evidence and judged it to be insufficient to accuse Trump of an obstruction of justice offense.
At a press conference shorty before the release of Mueller’s report, Barr offered a robust defense of Trump, saying the president faced an “unprecedented situation” and observing that Mueller's report acknowledges the existence of "substantial evidence" showing Trump was frustrated by a "sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks."
Mueller's team analyzed 10 episodes, many of which have been the subject of public reporting, in the course of the obstruction inquiry. They include Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey as well as his efforts to pressure then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
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