AP Fact Check: Trump Falsely Claims Mueller Exonerated Him - NBC 6 South Florida
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AP Fact Check: Trump Falsely Claims Mueller Exonerated Him

In his report, Mueller said his team declined to make a prosecutorial judgment on whether to charge Trump

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Key Moments From Robert Mueller’s Testimony to the House Intelligence Committee

     Watch the key moments from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s second testimony to Congress.

    (Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Robert Mueller rejected Donald Trump's assertions that the probe was a "witch hunt" and hoax

    • Mueller said he did not clear the president of obstructing his investigation

    • Trump's GOP allies tried to cast the former special counsel and his prosecutors as politically motivated

    President Donald Trump falsely claimed exoneration from Robert Mueller on Wednesday even as the former special counsel told Congress he offered no such vindication.

    Mueller spoke as few words as possible through the hours of hearings . But much of what he did say was bent by Trump and partisans on both sides to suit their purposes.

    A look at some of the statements inside and outside the hearings:

    TRUMP to his critics, in a fundraising letter from his 2020 campaign: "How many times do I have to be exonerated before they stop?"

    Key Moments From Robert Mueller’s Testimony to House Judiciary Committee

    [NATL] Key Moments From Robert Mueller’s Testimony to House Judiciary Committee

    Watch the key moments from Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress.

    (Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019)

    THE FACTS: Trump has not been exonerated by Mueller at all. "No," Mueller said when asked at the hearing whether he had cleared the president of criminal wrongdoing in the investigation that looked into the 2016 Trump campaign's relations with Russians.

    In his report, Mueller said his team declined to make a prosecutorial judgment on whether to charge Trump, partly because of a Justice Department legal opinion that said sitting presidents shouldn't be indicted.

    As a result, his detailed report factually laid out instances in which Trump might have obstructed justice, leaving it up to Congress to take up the matter.

    As well, he looked into a potential criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign and said the investigation did not collect sufficient evidence to establish criminal charges on that front.

    ___

    JOE BIDEN, Democratic presidential contender: "Mueller said there was enough evidence to bring charges against the president after he is president of the United States, when he is a private citizen ... that's a pretty compelling thing." — speaking to reporters in Dearborn, Michigan.

    Hear Mueller’s Opening Statement to the House Intelligence Committee

    [NATL] Hear Mueller’s Opening Statement to the House Intelligence Committee

    Former special counsel Robert Mueller gives his opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee.

    (Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019)

    THE FACTS: Mueller did not say that. He deliberately drew no conclusions about whether he collected sufficient evidence to charge Trump with a crime.

    He merely said that if prosecutors want to charge Trump once he is out of office, they would have that ability because obstacles to indicting a sitting president would be gone.

    Even that came with a caveat, though — Mueller did not answer whether the statute of limitations might put Trump off limits to an indictment should he win re-election.

    Rep. McCarthy: ‘There is No Obstruction’

    [NATL] Rep. McCarthy: ‘There is No Obstruction’

    U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony reinforced that there was no obstruction of justice and called for Democrats to move past the 2016 election.

    (Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019)

    Biden spoke after being briefed on the hearings and prefaced his remark with a request to "correct me if I'm wrong."

    ___

    TRUMP, on why Mueller did not recommend charges: "He made his decision based on the facts, not based on some rule." — remarks to reporters after the hearings.

    Rep. Sewell Calls on Mueller to Charge Donald Trump Jr., Other Senior Officials With Conspiracy

    [NATL] Rep. Sewell Calls on Mueller to Charge Donald Trump Jr., Other Senior Officials With Conspiracy

    Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., describes Donald Trump Jr.'s June 9 meeting with Russians prior to the 2016 elections as conspiracy and interfering with an election.

    (Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019)

    THE FACTS: Mueller did not say that, either.

    The special counsel said his team never reached a determination on charging Trump. At no point has he suggested that he made that decision because the facts themselves did not support charges.

    The rule Trump refers to is the Justice Department legal opinion that says sitting presidents are immune from indictment — and that guidance did restrain the investigators, though it was not the only factor in play.

    Chairman Schiff Opens the Mueller’s Intelligence Hearing

    [NATL] Chairman Schiff Opens the Mueller’s Intelligence Hearing

     House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff starts the second hearing of the day where former special counsel Robert Mueller will continue his testimony to Congress

    (Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019)

    ___

    Rep. JOHN RATCLIFFE, R-Texas, to Mueller: "You didn't follow the special counsel regulations. It clearly says, write a confidential report about decisions reached. Nowhere in here does it say write a report about decisions that weren't reached. You wrote 180 pages — 180 pages — about decisions that weren't reached, about potential crimes that weren't charged or decided. ...This report was not authorized under the law to be written."

    THE FACTS: Mueller's report is lawful. Nothing in Justice Department regulations governing special counsels forbids Mueller from saying what he did in the report.

    WATCH: Trump Slams Mueller Testimony, Democrats

    [NATL] WATCH: Trump Slams Mueller Testimony, Democrats

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday called former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony a win for the White House.

    (Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019)

    It is true that the regulations provide for the special counsel to submit a "confidential report" to the attorney general explaining his decisions to recommend for or against a prosecution. But it was Attorney General William Barr who made the decision to make the report public, which is his right.

    Special counsels have wide latitude, and are not directed to avoid writing about "potential crimes that weren't charged or decided," as Ratcliffe put it.

    Mueller felt constrained from bringing charges because of the apparent restriction on indicting sitting presidents. But his report left open the possibility that Congress could use the information in an impeachment proceeding or that Trump could be charged after he leaves office.

    Rep. Nunes Delivers Opening Comments at Second Mueller Hearing

    [NATL] Rep. Nunes Delivers Opening Comments at Second Mueller Hearing

    Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., called former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony the “last gasp of the Russia conspiracy.”

    (Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019)

    The factual investigation was conducted "in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available," the report said.

    In a tweet, Neal Katyal, who drafted the Justice Department regulations, wrote: "Ratcliffe dead wrong about the Special Counsel regs. I drafted them in 1999. They absolutely don't forbid the Mueller Report. And they recognize the need for a Report 'both for historical purposes and to enhance accountability.'"

    ___

    Mueller on WikiLeaks’ Democratic Email Dump: ‘Problematic Is an Understatement’

    [NATL] Mueller on WikiLeaks’ Democratic Email Dump: ‘Problematic Is an Understatement’

    Robert Mueller responds to a Congressman’s questions about WikiLeaks’ dump of stolen Democratic emails shortly before the 2016 election.

    (Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019)

    Sen. KAMALA HARRIS of California, Democratic presidential contender: "I'll say it again: Robert Mueller basically returned an impeachment referral in his report. Congress must hold this president accountable. The House must begin impeachment proceedings." — tweet.

    THE FACTS: That's certainly one interpretation of the report, but the tweet buttressed her case by displaying a Mueller quotation that he later corrected, concerning guidance from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

    In the morning, Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California asked Mueller: "The reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president. Correct?"

    Mueller responded: "That is correct."

    The notion that Trump would be indicted, absent that guidance, ricocheted online, and Harris posted the Lieu-Mueller exchange with her tweet. But when the afternoon hearing began, Mueller walked back his words.

    "I want to add one correction to my testimony this morning," he said in reference to his answer to Lieu. "We did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime."

    His report stated that the Justice Department guidance was partly responsible for holding back potential charges but not the only reason.

    ___

    Rep. MIKE JOHNSON, R-La.: "Millions of Americans today maintain genuine concerns about your work in large part because of the infamous and widely publicized bias of your investigating team members, which we now know included 14 Democrats and zero Republicans."

    THE FACTS: Johnson echoes a widely repeated false claim by Trump that the Mueller probe was biased because the investigators were all a bunch of "angry Democrats." In fact, Mueller himself is a Republican.

    Some have given money to Democratic candidates over the years. But Mueller could not have barred them from serving on that basis because regulations prohibit the consideration of political affiliation for personnel actions involving career attorneys. Mueller reported to Attorney General William Barr, and before him, then-De