This column is not about "The Mueller Report" and what I and many others have said about it, have represented it as saying, and have mis-represented it as saying. Rather, it is excerpts of what Director Mueller actually said, himself, about the contents of the Report that have so far been made public. It should be remembered that very significant amounts of text have been redacted from the version of the Report issued to the public and the Congress by the President's lawyer, oops, I mean the "Attorney General." Unless the Democratic nominee wins the next Presidential election --- in which case it can be assumed that the unredacted Report, except for those portions truly bearing upon national security, will be released --- it will likely be many years until the full Report is seen, unless someone with possession of it now has the temerity to leak it.
Rather, this column contains selections of what Director Mueller actually had to say himself about the Report and its contents. The Director happens to be a man of few words. Thus, the bulk of the text in this column consists of questions put to him by members of the Democratic majority of the two House Committee before which he testified on July 24, 2019. The Director's words which appear below happen to be mostly "yes" and "no," with an occasionally more extensive comment.
But those words have an unusual historical significance, above and beyond any usually achieved by them. And it is for that reason that I am presenting them here. As much as the Trumpublicans (tm) and their lackeys in the media tried to either mis-represent what the Director said or spent all of their time attempting to distract public attention from the Report and its findings, often by attacking the Director and his staff in a variety of different ways, or challenging the origins of the investigation through mis-representation and distraction, the Report says what it says. And the Director said what he said, even if very briefly.
There is space here just to present a few excerpts, with the Director's very few words --- in relative terms --- highlighted. But if you had the opportunity to watch the hearings, you will know that they are pretty much representative of what went on during that day. The Hearings transcripts from which these excerpts was taken are, for the Judiciary Committee here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/transcript-of-robert-s-mueller-iiis-testimony-before-the-house-judiciary-committee/2019/07/24/7164abfe-ad96-11e9-a0c9-6d2d7818f3da_story.html, and for the Intelligence Committee here: https://hagerstownairport.org/2019/07/25/transcript-of-robert-s-mueller-iiis-testimony-before-the-house-intelligence-committee/ .
And so, first from the Judiciary Committee (understanding once again that these are excerpts. You can read the full transcripts, including the Republican questioning which I do not deal with here because virtually none of it dealt with the content of the Report at the addresses above), with Director Mueller's relatively few words highlighted.
Chairman Jerrold 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?
Director Mueller: Correct. That is not what the report said.
NADLER: Now, reading from page 2 of Volume 2 of your report that's on the screen, you wrote, quote, "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment," close quote.
Now does that say there was no obstruction?
NADLER: In fact, you were actually unable to conclude the president did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct?
MUELLER: Well, we at the outset determined that we -- when it came to the president's culpability, we needed to -- we needed -- we needed to go forward only after taking into account the OLC [Justice Dept. Office of Legal Counsel]opinion that indicated that a president -- sitting president cannot be indicted.
NADLER: So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct?
MUELLER: That is correct.
NADLER: And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the president?