Mueller didn’t clear Trump, Fox’s Chris Wallace tells Mick Mulvaney
President Donald Trump and many of congressional Republicans treated former special counsel Robert’s Mueller’s testimony last week before two House committees as a victory, but for Democrats like Rep, Jerry Nadler the possibility of impeachment proceedings against the president remains very real.
“My personal view is that he richly deserves impeachment,” Nadler said during an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “He has done many impeachable offenses. He’s violated the law six ways from Sunday.”
But the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachment, said his personal view on whether the president should be impeached is not the issue. “The question is, ‘Can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people?'” he said.
To that end, Nadler said House Democrats and his committee will continue to gather evidence and investigate “the corruptions of the administration, the abuses of power, what Mueller showed, the possible violations of the Emoluments Clause; all the things that might cause us to recommend articles of impeachment.”
During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney conceded that the impeachment battle is “far from over,” but he said Nadler’s was trying to take down the president because he is “facing a primary from his left in New York.”
“He is falling over himself to become more and more progressive in order to try and keep his job and not lose to the next AOC,” Mulvaney said, referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset win over Rep. Joseph Crowley in New York’s June 2018 Democratic primary. He said only left-wing Democrats still wanted to pursue the “bizarre” course of impeachment.
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Mulvaney, like Trump, claimed Mueller’s testimony about his investigation into Russian election meddling had cleared the president of any wrongdoing, and falsely said Mueller had testified that he would “absolutely not” have indicted Trump if he weren’t the president.
“No, that’s not what he said,” said host Chris Wallace.
“He said we didn’t because of the OLC, the Office of Legal Counsel guidelines,” Wallace said, referring to a 2000 Justice Department determination that “a sitting President is constitutionally immune from indictment and criminal prosecution.”
“I actually just think you’re wrong on that,” Mulvaney said.
“The record will show what it shows. I promise you, you’re wrong,” Wallace replied.
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During his Wednesday morning appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., had asked Mueller if he would have indicted Trump were it not for that OLC guideline.
“That is correct,” Mueller replied.
But at the opening of his afternoon testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller clarified that he did not think Lieu’s assertion was “the correct way to say it.”
“We did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller testified.
Mulvaney told Wallace on Wednesday, “If they had the evidence to indict the president, they would’ve done it, and they don’t because there was no obstruction.”
But Wallace said Mueller testified that his investigation was “not a witch hunt, not a hoax and the president is not exonerated,” despite Trump’s claims to the contrary.
Mulvaney said it was not the special counsel’s job to exonerate the president and that if he failed to prove a crime, Trump is “innocent until proven guilty.”
This weekend, Trump claimed Muerll’s testimony included many “exonerating things” and called it “a disaster for this illegal Democrat inspired Witch Hunt.”
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Nadler felt Mueller’s testimony had “broken the logjam” and demonstrated that Trump and Attorney General William Barr “were lying to the American people consistently, saying that the Mueller report found no obstruction, no collusion, and exonerated the president.”
But, like Mulvaney, Nadler was accused of misrepresenting Mueller’s words about the OLC ruling. “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper cited a statement from Nadler on Friday in which he quoted from Mueller’s exchange with Lieu without explaining that the former special counsel later walked his response back.
But Nadler believed Mueller’s report very clearly lays out the evidence that Trump obstructed justice and that the OLC ruling was the only reason the president had not been indicted. He said Mueller was being “careful” with his words because, “He thought it unfair to the president to say he was guilty, and was likely guilty of a crime, when the president couldn’t defend himself in a trial that wouldn’t occur” because of the OLC guideline.
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Nadler said Trump could be indicted “after he leaves office” or is “impeached and removed from office, if you can prove those crimes.”
Currently, about 100 House Democrats have expressed support for the opening of impeachment proceedings. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said more evidence should be gathered before a decision is made.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that he was worried about the “message of taking an impeachment case to trial” and then losing that trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, as well as losing the argument with the American public.
Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that Mueller’s report laid out “behavior that was unbecoming of an occupant of the White House” but did not clearly establish that any criminal act had been committed. He indicated he did not believe the president had obstructed justice because Mueller’s “investigation was not impeded. It was not hindered. And it was not stopped.”
But Hurd agreed that the Trump campaign’s willingness to accept help from the Russians and its numerous contacts with Russian officials – as well as the dishonesty about how long the negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow continued – were “a concern.”
The former CIA officer said Mueller made it clear “this wasn’t a one-time event” and that the “strategy by the Russian government to undermine trust in our democratic institution” is ongoing.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he is “less focused on relitigating 2016” and “more focused on trying to make sure our elections are safe in 2020.”
He said the Department of Homeland Security has “upped its game” in defending states’ voting systems. But he said more needed to be done, calling for states to move to systems with a paper ballot backup and for an increased effort to deal with disinformation campaigns on social media like the one used by the Russians in 2016.
“I don’t care whether you’re a Trump supporter or a Trump opponent, but all of us across the political spectrum should be concerned when foreign nations try to tip the balance in our democratic process to whatever candidate,” Warner said.
Contributing: Nicholas Wu
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