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.

In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?

Learn more in this episode of Eni's Energy SUPERFACTS series.

Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.

First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.

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British economist Jim O'Neill says the global economy can bounce back right to where it was before, in a V-shaped recovery. But his argument is based on a lot of "ifs," plus comparisons to the 2008 recession and conditions in China and South Korea that may not truly apply. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Robert Kahn take issue with O'Neill's op-ed, on this edition of The Red Pen.

Today, we're taking our Red Pen to an article titled "A V-Shaped Recovery Could Still Happen." I'm not buying it. It's published recently by Project Syndicate, authored by British economist named Jim O'Neill. Jim O'Neill is very well known. He was chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He's the guy that coined the acronym BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China. So, no slouch. But as you know, we don't agree with everything out there. And this is the case. Brought to you by the letter V. We're taking sharp issue with the idea that recovery from all the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic is going to happen quickly. That after the sharp drop that the world has experienced, everything bounces back to where it was before. That's the V. Economists around the world are debating how quickly recovery will happen to be sure. But we're not buying the V. Here's why. W-H-Y.

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The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have recently become very different. Since the beginning of July, the average number of both new fatalities and new deaths per 1 million people is rapidly increasing in the US while it remains mostly flat in the EU. We compare this to the average number of new cases each seven days in both regions, where the US trend continues upward but is not surging like the death toll. EU countries' robust public health systems and citizens' willingness to wear masks and maintain social distance could explain the disparity.

"Neither America first, which is ultimately America alone, nor America the world's policeman," Sen. Chris Coons told Ian Bremmer in describing VP Joe Biden's approach to foreign policy should he win the presidential election in November. In the latest episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, Sen. Coons provides details of how U.S. relationships with foreign governments and multilateral alliances could change in a Biden presidency. He also defended President Obama's track record, saying "I think it is a mischaracterization of the Obama-Biden foreign policy for President Trump to say that we were picking up the tab and fighting the world's wars and that we were disrespected." Coons stated that Biden would work to restore U.S. involvement in alliances like NATO, and shore up global support to pressure China on labor and environmental standards. The exchange is part of a broad conversation with the Senator about COVID response and economic relief, Russian interference in elections, and the 2020 presidential race. The episode begins airing nationally in the U.S. on Friday, July 10. Check local listings.