fter two years of studiously avoiding the spotlight, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, was finally ready to speak to the public. Standing at a lectern with a sign behind him that said “Department of Justice Washington,” he looked every inch the part: dark chalk-stripe suit, white button-down shirt, navy-blue tie, hair parted at the side, posture erect. His voice was firm, and his words were carefully chosen to put the onus firmly on Congress to decide whether to impeach Donald Trump on charges of obstruction of justice.
Volume II of the Mueller report, which the special counsel delivered to the Attorney General, William Barr, at the end of March, contained a section purporting to explain why Mueller decided not to reach a prosecutorial decision on whether Trump obstructed justice, but it was prolix and a bit difficult to decipher. This time around, Mueller made an effort to be shorter and clearer. He succeeded.
“The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation,” Mueller said. “We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the Acting Attorney General apprised of the progress of our work. As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.” (What it does say is “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”)