‘No’: Mueller Tells Congress Trump Not Totally Exonerated, Says President Refused To Sit For Interview

Everybody who has read even a summary of the Mueller report is acutely aware that the special counsel did not “totally exonerate” Donald Trump, as the president continues to claim.

In fact, even William Barr’s infamous “principal conclusions” letter made it clear that the president had not been exonerated on obstruction of justice, because if he had, Barr would not have needed to clear Trump of those charges himself. The key line (which lives in infamy) is this:

While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.

Read more: Mueller Hearings Set To Rock Capitol Hill As Trump Seethes

If the explicit reference to Trump not being exonerated wasn’t enough to make the point (which it clearly was not), the Mueller report lays out multiple instances of potential obstruction and contains this passage:

Our investigation found multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russia-interference and obstruction investigations. The president engaged in a series of targeted efforts to control the investigation.

The bottom line is that it was Barr who let Trump off the hook for obstruction, not Mueller.

During what was, until Wednesday, his first public statement on the report that bears his name, Mueller said this with regard to obstruction:

A president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. Charging the president with a crime was not an option we could consider.

Despite the fact that all of this is clear as day, Trump has spent months parroting the “no obstruction” line. Barr has assisted in that regard.

“So sad that the Democrats are putting wonderful Hope Hicks through hell, for 3 years now, after total exoneration by Robert Mueller & the Mueller Report”, the president tweeted, on June 29.

“No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”, he shouted, after Barr delivered his original letter to Congress on March 24.

Although Democrats were looking for a “home run” with Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill, a far less ambitious goal was simply to lay bare, for an American public whose attention span is limited to 140-character tweets and therefore cannot even conceptualize of a 450-page legal document, what Mueller actually said, starting with the fact that Trump is, frankly, lying about “total exoneration” – at least as far as the special counsel’s office is concerned.

Here is Jerry Nadler driving the point home:

(If the video does not load, please refresh your page)

And here is the verbatim exchange:

Nadler: The president has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him. But that is not what your report said is it?

Mueller: Correct. That is not what the report said.

After reading directly from the report, Nadler then asked Mueller “Does that say there is no obstruction?” To which Mueller replied “No”.

Nadler continued, just to make sure nothing was lost in translation. “What about total exoneration, did you actually totally exonerate the president?” Again, Mueller had a one word answer: “No”.

Asked to confirm that Trump “refused to be interviewed” despite repeated efforts on the part of the special counsel’s office to explain why such an interview was in the public’s interest, Mueller was unequivocal. Here is that clip:


None of this is likely to win any hearts and minds that weren’t already won, but the simple fact of the matter is, was and will likely continue to be, that the president and Attorney General Barr have sought to mislead the American people by spinning a report they know the majority of voters are not going to read.

You can hardly blame them – unless of course you think it’s the duty of the president and the country’s chief law enforcement officer to keep the public informed, in which case you actually can.

Read Mueller’s Full Opening Statement To Congress

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