Mueller speaks about the Russia investigation
It's been a busy day in Washington.
Special counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly for the first time ever about his 22-month-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He also announced that he's returning to private life and the special counsel's office said today marked his last day in his position.
If you missed it all, here's how the day played out:
- Mueller's surprise statement: The special counsel made his statement with little warning (Nancy Pelosi's office got no heads up, and the White House only learned about it last night).
- What he said: Mueller said his investigation could not clear President Trump and that charging the President was not an option his office could consider. He emphasized that Justice Department guidelines did not allow him to charge a sitting President.
- A key takeaway: Mueller said that if Trump had not committed a crime, investigators would have said so. They never gave Trump that clean bill of health.
- What the White House is saying: Press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the White House was not surprised by Mueller’s statement today, saying there was “no real news in there.”
- Democrats' demands: After Mueller suggested the onus is on Congress to hold the President accountable, many Democrats ratcheted up their demands that Congress begin impeachment proceedings. And some new voices joined the calls: Sen. Cory Booker for the first time said Trump should be impeached.
- But remember: While Democratic leadership is facing more pressure to start the impeachment process, no one has formally taken those steps. Speaker Pelosi — while saying that nothing is off the table — has not indicated that she will start the process. House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler today said that it "falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump" — but did not announce any action.
Today is Robert Mueller’s last day as special counsel, according to special counsel spokesperson Peter Carr.
Earlier today, Mueller said he was resigning from the Department of Justice and returning to private life.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, said many of her constituents support starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump — but she wants to ensure that any case Congress makes is a "compelling" one.
"Many constituents want to impeach the President. But we want to do what is right and what gets results. What gets results," she said.
Pelosi said that "nothing is off the table" but stressed the need for an "ironclad" case to convince Republican lawmakers.
"But we do want to make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case that even the Republican Senate would — at the time seems to be not an objective jury —will be convinced of the path that we have to take as a country," she said.
A spokesperson for former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign told CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller's statement today reiterated two points: one, that Russia continues to meddle, a reality Trump can't ignore, and two, Congress continue to investigate.
"What is truly troubling is that we have seen this President and this Administration engaging in flagrant, open attacks on the rule of law by throwing up roadblocks early in the stages of Congress' investigation," the spokesperson said. "Not only that, President Trump is now directing an extraordinary internal vendetta against law enforcement and intelligence community investigators who were doing their job."
On impeachment, Biden sides with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has urged caution from progressives who have pushed for impeachment proceedings to begin.
"Vice President Biden agrees with Speaker Pelosi that no one would relish what would certainly be a divisive impeachment process, but that it may be unavoidable if this Administration continues on its path," the spokesperson said.
They added, "Vice President Biden will continue to make the case as to why President Trump should not be re-elected. That is the surefire way to get him out of office."
Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, after saying that he believed the Department of Justice's policy preventing the president from being charged with a crime is "wrong," told a reporter he wasn't ruling out the possibility of impeachment.
"All options are on the table, and nothing should be ruled out," Nadler said.
House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, said President Trump has lied about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
“Although Department of Justice policy prevented the special counsel from bringing criminal charges against the President, the special counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying.”
"He is lying about the special counsel findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the special counsel’s report, and above all, lying and saying that the special counsel found no obstruction and no collusion."
House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, is talking to reporters following special counsel Robert Mueller's statement this morning on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
After Mueller spoke, Nadler released a statement saying that it "falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump."
"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. No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Congress believes its responsibility "to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power" is a sacred duty — but she did not call for impeachment proceedings.
Pelsoi has long said she does not want to begin impeachment proceedings, but in recent weeks, she has faced increasing pressure from some Democrats to do so.
"I thank Special Counsel Mueller for the work he and his team did to provide a record for future action both in the Congress and in the courts regarding the Trump Administration involvement in Russian interference and obstruction of the investigation," she said in a statement.
She continued: The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power. The Congress will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale echoed the president’s comments, saying "the case is now closed."
In a statement, he said:
"Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s remarks today confirmed what we already knew. There was no collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and there was no case for obstruction. President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated. Mueller said his investigation is over. The case is now closed.��
Parscale added, “Now it’s time to turn to the origins of the Russia hoax and get to the bottom of why the Trump campaign was spied on by the Obama-era DOJ and FBI. Anyone who is for transparency, constitutional civil liberties, and the rule of law should want to know why human sources, wiretapping, and unmasking were used to infiltrate a presidential campaign.”