Is Mueller “Exonerated?”

“THE ATTORNEY GENERAL SHOULD KNOW”

by Sharon Rondeau

(Jul. 24, 2019) — During questioning Wednesday afternoon from Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH10) in front of the House Intelligence Committee, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller refused to enter into what he said would be a “legal argument” over whether or not a Justice Department prosecutor has the ability to “exonerate” anyone following an investigation.

Turner pointed out that the word “exonerate” appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution or applicable U.S. Code and made the case that the U.S. attorney general has no ability to “exonerate” a potential defendant and therefore, a special counsel, who derives his authority from the attorney general, similarly has no such authority.

Mueller told Turner that the word “exonerate” was placed in the report because the “attorney general should know” whether or not it applied in that circumstance.

He then said he could not engage in the “legal argument” as to whether or not a prosecutor can “exonerate.”

As with questions Mueller answered to the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning, Mueller concluded the exchange by stating, “I take your question.”

“Exonerate” appears in the “Conclusion” section on page 8 of the report, which deals with “Obstruction of Justice” pertaining to President Trump.  “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the sentence reads.

Turner and a number of other Republicans from both committees voiced objections to the Mueller report‘s “exoneration” statement, contending that the U.S. system of justice is based on the presumed innocence of any defendant prior to proof of guilt following indictment.

No one from the Trump campaign or administration was indicted for “obstruction of justice” or “conspiracy” with the Russians, the latter of which was the apparent predicate for the opening of the FBI’s investigation into the campaign in 2015 or 2016.

The official date the FBI has provided for the opening of its counterintelligence investigation is July, 31, 2016.

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