I watched Special Counsel Mueller’s 10 minute statement in a press conference this morning in which he told us nothing new. But that doesn’t make it unimportant.
Many would point out everything he said today is in his 400 page report, but that totally misses the point. For the many, many, many millions who didn’t read the report, including me, it was a needed, simple way to contrast with Trump’s narrative of innocence – “no collusion, no obstruction.” Which I believe has been the takeaway for many.
Our politics has diminished to a battle of bumper stickers. So the challenge is to shorten what Mueller emphasized today to licence plate size. That there was “insufficient evidence” to charge conspiracy (hardly the same as “innocent”) and there was quite a bit of evidence to charge for obstruction (which he lays out in the report), but Mueller felt constrained by justice department policy preventing charging a sitting president with a crime (see bottom for more on that).
As you can see, the truth is a bit complicated, so turning the truth into a bumper sticker is hard to do, unless like Trump you distort the truth to fit your simple messages. A powerful technique I have to admit.
How about Not innocent, just not guilty yet.
P. S. – A curious aspect to this report is Mueller’s insisting his actions were circumscribed by D. O. J. policy disallowing indictments of sitting presidents. That would suggest that he wouldn’t have indicted for conspiracy even if he had sufficient evidence.
This point has been brought up by both Michael Smerconish and Brit Hume, the former a moderate CNN talk show host and the latter a conservative senior commentator on Fox. If Mueller was restricted from indicting on evidence of obstruction, then wouldn’t he also have been restricted from indicting on conspiracy had they found sufficient evidence?
I’d like some congressman to ask Mueller about that, even if it is in a closed door session.