By Newt Gingrich
On Wednesday, Robert Mueller tried to have it both ways.
When he said, “if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” he overstepped his bounds as a prosecutor. Mueller was insinuating that President Trump has not been exonerated of wrongdoing while refusing to explicitly declare the President guilty of any crime.
As Alan Dershowitz noted in The Hill, FBI Director James Comey was “universally criticized” for attempting a similar political dance during the Hillary Clinton email investigation. At the time, Comey had said that there was no clear evidence that Clinton intended to break the law, but there was evidence that she was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information (which can be ruled a crime).
In Mueller’s case, it was much worse. Dershowitz rightly pointed out that Mueller “went beyond the conclusion of his report and gave a political gift to Democrats in Congress who are seeking to institute impeachment proceedings against President Trump.” Mueller’s report said there was no evidence President Trump broke the law. Mueller’s mouth said there was no proof he didn’t.
The problem is, Mueller’s verbal statement distorted the role of a prosecutor and flipped a core concept of the American justice system on its head – the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty. Dating back to John Adams’s principled defense of British soldiers against an incensed public after the Boston Massacre, Americans have held that proving the burden of guilt falls on the state. The American system does not assume you are guilty until the state proves they are innocent – the government must prove guilt.
And the bottom line is: After a two-year investigation consisting of 15 professional lawyers, many millions of taxpayer dollars, and interviews of more than 500 witnesses, everything in Mueller’s 448-page report leads to the conclusion that President Trump is not guilty of any crimes. Like Ken Starr, who declared in his report that there was “substantial and credible evidence” that President Bill Clinton was guilty of 11 separate counts of criminal activity (including obstruction of justice), Mueller could have concluded that President Trump obstructed justice without citing any formal charges. He declined to do so.
Sean Davis for The Federalist also pointed out that Robert Mueller’s politicization of his investigation was self-refuting. Mueller had said, “it is important that the office’s written work speak for itself,” but then he kept talking.
As Davis wrote:
Mueller is making the political suggestion that the President should be impeached on allegations of obstruction of justice for which Mueller and his team of hot shot lawyers found no proof. This is a clear example of a prosecutor who is trying to get an outcome regardless of evidence. In desperate pursuit to keep the bogus Russia collusion narrative alive, Mueller is turning to Soviet-style tactics.
The foundations of our justice system have served us well for 243 years. We should not abandon them now. Robert Mueller should follow his own advice and let his report speak for itself.