Mueller Speaks: Impeachment Spark, or Double-Negative Legacy?

Mueller Speaks: Impeachment Spark, or Double-Negative Legacy?


Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller just gave a brief statement about his report on the Russian government's attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and the question of whether President Trump sought to obstruct that inquiry. Here are two takes on what Mr Mueller said.

Robert Mueller's double-negative legacy
by Willis Sparks

With his brief statement this morning, Robert Mueller leaves behind a "double negative" legacy regarding the question of whether President Trump sought to obstruct justice: we didn't have confidence that the president didn't commit a crime.

And so there's something here to disappoint both the president and his detractors.

President Trump can't be happy that Mueller made explicit in this statement that "Charging the president with a crime was not an option we could consider" under Department of Justice policy. That comment will provoke endless speculation that Trump avoided prosecution only because he's president.


But Mueller's statement is also a disappointment for Trump's critics, because he's made clear that for him to address any questions that extend beyond the text of his report, including before Congress, would be grossly unfair to the president, who can't have a trial to defend himself.

We're left with two main conclusions.

The first is political. The question of President Trump's culpability—in conspiring with the Russians to interfere in the election, in obstructing justice, or in anything else—rests entirely with Congress and a potential impeachment process. Knowing the Republican-majority Senate will not convict the president, Democrats in the House of Representatives must decide whether they have a constitutional responsibility to try to impeach him.

The second is the one Robert Mueller wants us to consider his report's true takeaway: "I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American."

Mueller Just Lit the Impeachment Fuse on Live TV
by Kevin Allison

Everything that Special Counsel Mueller said this morning was in the report he presented to the Justice Department back in March. But his brief remarks could still mark the moment that the slow-burning fuse of impeachment finally started to spark, flicker, and pick up speed.

Here' why: We're living in a TL;DR political and media age when "read the report" isn't enough. The lines between Reality TV and politics have become so blurred that to hear direct from one of the main characters in the drama – as we just did -- is likely to have a bigger impact, not only on the public but on Congress.

Mueller just stood up on live TV and stated flatly that "if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," while emphasizing that charging a sitting president wasn't an option.

That's politically explosive in a way that the original report was not. Coming from a man whose impartiality and dedication to upholding US institutions can't reasonably be questioned, a statement like that – for the cameras -- throws the ball squarely into Congress's court.

The evidence to consider is all there, in blistering detail -- much of it beginning on page 208 of the report. Will a dysfunctional Congress – and a Democratic Party divided over the question of impeachment – move forward to do so? Mueller's clear and public statement this morning raises the stakes dramatically.

We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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Vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens before the rest of the world, has been effective for rich nations like the United States and Israel. But leaving behind so much of the global population isn't just a humanitarian issue. It could prolong the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who argues that what the global vaccination effort most urgently lacks are doses, not dollars. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, she calls for a large increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and suggests we may be seeing alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?

That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.

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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.

The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.

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In two weeks, US President Joe Biden will be hosting an online "climate summit" to mark Earth Day. He'll ask China and India to sign up to America's ambitious new plan to slow down climate change. Will they go for it? China is the world's largest polluter, but Beijing is rolling out solar and wind power as fast as it's burning coal. India, meanwhile, is loathe to pick up the slack for rich countries that polluted their way to wealth and now want everyone else to agree to emissions cuts. No matter what happens, any successful plan to reduce global emissions will require buy-in from these three nations which, along with the European Union, account for almost 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions nowadays. Here's a look at emissions by the world's top polluters compared to everyone else over the last two decades.

Two big Andean elections: This Sunday, Ecuadorians go to the polls for the second time this year in a close presidential runoff, while Peruvians will vote in the first round of their own presidential election. In Ecuador, the matchup is between the leftwing-populist frontrunner Andrés Arauz, who has pledged to blow up the country's IMF agreements and boost national oil production, and Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business candidate who is seen as the choice of continuity with the current market-friendly government. Voter abstention is likely to be high, and the final result could very well be close and contested in a polarized country that was struggling with massive social unrest even before the pandemic struck. Meanwhile in Peru — which recently went through three presidents in the space of a week — the candidate field is hugely fragmented. Those with a decent shot to make it to the second round include "change" candidates like the leftist former lawmakers Yohny Lescano and Verónica Mendoza, as well as the prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, who has recently risen in the polls. Former soccer star George Forsyth is also in the mix, as is Keiko Fujimori, daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori. Both of this Sunday's elections will serve as a kind of bellwether for the political mood in a region that has been devastated by the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

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