Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Robert Mueller, the U.S. Special Counsel announced today that he is retiring and that the case on Donald Trump is over.
Mueller issued his first public statement on his investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election, emphasizing one of the key points of his report: that his office did not conclude whether or not President Trump committed a crime.
In his statement, Mueller said his office could not bring criminal charges against the president because the team believed it to be unconstitutional.
“If we had had confidence that the president had clearly not committed a crime, we would have said so,” said Mueller, adding, “Charging the president with a crime is not an option we could consider.”
“It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge,” said Mueller, further explaining the reasoning.
Mueller announced that he was officially resigning from the Department of Justice and returning to private life. He said this was his final statement on the matter, and any testimony he might give to Congress would not go beyond what was in the report.
Mueller has been asked to appear by the House Judiciary Committee, but he hasn’t said if he will. He said no one — presumably referring to officials in the Justice Department or the administration — has instructed him one way or the other about his appearance.
“I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner,” said Mueller.
“I am making that decision myself, no one has told me whether I can or should testify. There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made.”
“We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in an appearance before Congress. In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.”
Mueller did not take questions from the assembled reporters after the 10-minute statement.
The special counsel’s report concluded that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” leading to the indictment of 34 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges ranging from computer hacking to conspiracy and financial crimes. Those indictments led to seven guilty pleas. Four people, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, were sentenced to prison.
“The case is essentially closed and further accusations and investigations regarding the matter should be closed” said one congressional insider after Mueller’s comments today.
A redacted version of Mueller’s 448-page report, released last month, found no conspiracy between Russia and Trump’s campaign. But it chronicled at least 10 episodes of efforts by Trump to obstruct the federal probe. And while the special counsel declined to charge Trump with obstruction of justice, investigators have explicitly refused to exonerate the president despite his repeated public comments to the contrary. Stay tuned.
Tornadoes continue to damage the Midwest
LAWRENCE, K.S. – Near the University of Kansas, south of Kansas City, a massive tornado touched down on Tuesday, injuring 11 people and closer to the city, the Kansas City International Airport briefly shut down due to damage.
Monday marked the 11th consecutive day where multiple tornadoes were reported throughout the country, according to the National Weather Service.
NWS issued a “tornado emergency” alert for parts of eastern Kansas on Tuesday night as dangerous weather touched down in the area.
Police in Lawrence, the home of the University of Kansas, said a massive tornado left large trees, power lines and debris along the streets, making some major roads impassable. There were 11 people injured in the town, mostly minor, according to a Lawrence Memorial Hospital spokesperson.
KU is already out for the summer.
Kansas City International Airport said two flights were diverted and passengers waiting in the airport were rushed to the parking garage tunnels at about 7 p.m. The “all clear” was given about 45 minutes later.
The airport remained closed, however, due to “unsafe conditions from area storm debris.” The airport planned to reopen after 11 p.m. local time.
“Most structural damage appears to have occurred near Lawrence as the tornado passed just outside the city limit,” the Lawrence Police Department said in a tweet. “Please do not go sight seeing tornado damage. This only hampers the efforts of emergency workers.”
There were also about 13,000 customers without power in the Lawrence area late Tuesday.
Tornadoes devastated parts of Ohio on Monday night, leveling homes and leaving thousands without water and power.