Mueller on Trump's obstruction: guilty by default?
After two years of intense investigation - and more than two months of absolute silence since the publication of his report – Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally spoke to the country making it clear that the decision to judge or not President Donald Trump ultimately lies in Congress.
If someone is not innocent, then what is he?
This is the legal debate that revolves around the findings of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and the attempts of the Trump Administration to obstruct the investigations.
"If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," the Special Counsel told the media on Wednesday during his first public appearance since he took the reins of one of the most critical investigations in the country's contemporary history.
After the sudden publication of his report by Attorney General William Barr - who also took the liberty to rid President Trump of any guilt - the entire country looked forward to the statements of the only person with in-depth knowledge on the matter.
Robert Mueller conducted an investigation for more than two years, which resulted in 199 criminal charges and 37 indictments, including against members of the president's closest circle.
Also known as the Russiagate, the investigative process about the cyber attacks orchestrated by Moscow to help the Trump campaign in its 2016 victory, exposed in 448 pages the aggressive digital attack against America's democracy, as well as more than ten episodes in which President Trump attempted to obstruct federal investigators.
However, as Mueller explained in his statements, his role as a special investigator within the Department of Justice did not allow him to formally accuse the president, as it would violate the constitutional statutes.
This situation seems to have offered Barr a way of relief to efficiently protect the president who put him in office, as well as it allowed him to publish personal summaries of the report and therefore manipulate the public perception on the matter.
"It is important that the office's written work speak for itself," Mueller said. "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."
While no one doubts the professionalism of the Special Counsel when carrying out the task assigned to him, his statements leave the way open for Congress to take charge of the legal procedure that should follow.
After months of measuring the temperature of the room, the Democratic leaders responded to Mueller's statements with a more favorable mood towards the idea of a political impeachment against Trump.
Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have insisted in recent weeks that "impeachment" is not the most appropriate way for the country's political situation, relying on a strategy where simply defeating Trump in the 2020 elections could be enough.
However, the tone of Mueller's comments highlighted the harm that overlooking the research findings could mean to our democracy.
According to Politico, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat Jerry Nadler, said that now "falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump."
Similarly, Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker (DN.J.) was straight to the point when he said that "Robert Mueller's statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately."
The mayor of South Bend and also candidate Pete Buttigieg, and even Republican Justin Amash (R-MI) joined Booker's demand.