Quit playing games

The New York Post on Robert Mueller’s recent Russia probe statements

May 29

In what he clearly means to be his final statement on his investigation, special counsel Bob Mueller still insisted on having it both ways. But the bottom line remains the same: It’s over. Democrats already have everything they’re going to have if they want to impeach.

Mueller is plainly peeved at how President Trump complained loudly and publicly about the investigation even as the White House cooperated fully with the probe. So his remarks Wednesday were salted with lines like, “If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

But he also wouldn’t, and won’t, say if he believes the president did commit a crime. He pointedly cites Justice Department policies that don’t allow charges against a sitting president, then drops the question of what the charges might’ve otherwise been.

And then preens about how even outlining those charges would be unfair, because Trump wouldn’t have the chance to face them in a court of law.

Here’s the thing, though: If Mueller’s team had been able to build a collusion or obstruction case against anyone else from the Trump campaign or the Trump White House, they’d have been free to press those charges in court, and even name the president as an unindicted co-conspirator.

So Mueller’s line about “insufficient evidence of a conspiracy” is just a nasty way of exonerating Trump’s team.

It also means that any obstruction would’ve been purely about the president’s actions, and only his, regarding an investigation that Trump never actually impeded. And one that the president always knew could never find collusion, because he knew he hadn’t colluded.

Beyond Mueller’s passive-aggressive digs, though, his message was another disappointment for Democrats, since it boils down to: I’m not going to help you drag this out.

That is, he’s not going to add a word beyond what’s in his 450-page report on the Russia investigation — not in future public statements, not in testimony. He’s had his complete say.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top committee chairmen have been walking a tightrope, appeasing the party’s “impeach now” wing with hearings meant to suggest they’re still digging into the details of Team Trump misdeeds — even as they avoid actually jumping to impeachment proceedings, because that’s clearly not what centrist voters want.

Getting Mueller to testify was to be the next scene in that show, and he’s just said: Count me out; my report speaks for itself and speaks for me.

He also shot down another part of the show — charges that Attorney General William Barr suppressed some key part of his findings. As Mueller noted, Barr released virtually the whole report as rapidly as possible. Nor did the special counsel fault the AG’s initial, brief summary of its findings.

And those findings remain what they’ve been for weeks now: Mueller’s team found insufficient basis for any collusion case, and couldn’t come to a conclusion on obstruction.

Nothing changed after Mueller’s press conference. Except this: Democrats can’t have it both ways — shying from impeachment but wallowing in endless investigations and testimony that create more noise without shedding any new light.

I’m done with my job, Mueller told the members of Congress. You should quit playing games, and do yours.

By Patricia Older

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