Robert Mueller sparked more controversy Wednesday with his final official statement as special counsel on his two-year investigation, which resulted in insufficient evidence of any "collusion" and no recommendation on the question of obstruction of justice by the president. While Mueller appears to have gone out of his way to add more fuel to the Democrats' impeachment fire with his comments on obstruction, Trump's initial, succinct response had a far different take: "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." The president has since responded more profusely and forcefully to Mueller's closing statement.
"The Greatest Presidential Harassment in history. After spending $40,000,000 over two dark years, with unlimited access, people, resources and cooperation, highly conflicted Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!" Trump tweeted early Thursday morning (tweets below).
Trump then reminded his 60 million followers what the report and media coverage for two years was actually about: "Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax...And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist."
With the collusion conspiracy theory debunked by Mueller, Trump said, his political enemies are now trying to build a case that he obstructed justice to hide a non-existent crime: "So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media, say he fought back against this phony crime that didn’t exist, this horrendous false accusation, and he shouldn’t fight back, he should just sit back and take it. Could this be Obstruction? No, Mueller didn’t find Obstruction either. Presidential Harassment!"
Trump critics have focused on Mueller's loaded comments on obstruction in his final statement as special counsel Wednesday as evidence that he did, in fact, conclude that Trump was guilty but Department of Justice regulations blocked him from recommending charges.
"If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," said Mueller. "We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime….we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime."
But following Mueller's statement, the Department of Justice and Mueller's office issued a joint statement clarifying his comments: "The Attorney General has previously stated that the Special Counsel repeatedly affirmed that he was not saying that, but for the OLC opinion, he would have found the President obstructed justice. The Special Counsel's report and his statement today made clear that the office concluded it would not reach a determination - one way or the other — about whether the President committed a crime. There is no conflict between these statements."
Mueller has come under fire from many analysts, including Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz and Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, for his handling of the obstruction question.
"Mueller’s investigation never should have included obstruction by Trump," Shapiro wrote in an op-ed responding to Mueller's statement. "Unlike the election interference investigation, which began as a counterintelligence investigation inside the FBI, the obstruction investigation began as a criminal investigation — and a criminal investigation that Mueller admits he never had the authority to conclude. ... Mueller spent tens of millions of dollars and years of time investigating unindictable conduct. So what the hell was he doing?... He is a member of the executive branch. He is not an independent counsel. He is not a legislative investigator. A criminal investigation that cannot possibly result in charges is a conflict in terms. Mueller never should have agreed to such an investigation under the law, and Mueller’s own standard makes that clear."