Washington: Special counsel Robert Mueller who investigated the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US elections and suspicious links between Trump associates and Russian officials, declared on Wednesday that his probe could not clear American President Donald Trump and that charging him was not an oon his office could consider.
In the first public comments on the probe since he was appointed special counsel two years ago, he emphasised that Justice Department guidelines did not allow him to charge a sitting President, and as a result, his office did not determine if Trump had committed obstruction of justice.
“If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.”
While announcing the closure of the special counsel’s office and resigning from the Justice Department, Mueller revealed how the investigation played out and the possible role that Congress could play in holding Trump accountable.
Mueller indicated his obstruction investigation into Trump could be picked up by Congress by highlighting how the “Constitution requires a process other than” the criminal justice system to hold officeholders accountable.
Democratic presidential candidates immediately called for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry.“Bob Mueller was essentially referring impeachment to the United States Congress,” said California Senator Kamala Harris.
“Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately,” tweeted Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat who previously had taken a far more cautious stand on impeachment.
Mueller’s public statement did not appear to sway Trump, who has claimed the investigation exonerated him.“Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you,” Trump tweeted minutes after Mueller’s statement ended.
Later on Wednesday, Trump added via tweet: “How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by Democrats? WITCH-HUNT!”
A source familiar with Trump’s thinking said the President’s view on impeachment is “let’s do it. This fight will end up on our side. American people will see this as a scam. It is.”