If we had had confidence

Mueller made a statement.

Mueller’s 10-ish minute statement came after a nearly two-year-long investigation into Russia’s attempted interference in the 2016 election and whether the President, or anyone close to him, had obstructed that probe. Mueller’s words on the charge of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign largely comported with the 400+ page report released by the special counsel’s office this spring, making clear that there was “insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.”

But it was Mueller’s words on the possibility that Trump had sought to obstruct the investigation where Mueller clearly wanted to leave his mark. He emphasized two things of real importance — both of which, with a bit of reading between the lines, provided a glimpse into what Mueller really thinks regarding Trump and obstruction. Here they are:

1) “If we had had confidence that the President had clearly not committed a crime, we would have said so.”

Which means they had no such confidence.

2) “Charging the President with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.”

Because of DoJ policy. And because they couldn’t charge him, they also couldn’t say “but there’s reason to think he’s not innocent” because it’s not fair to do that when a trial is ruled out.

Mueller knew — or at least hoped — this would be his last major moment in the klieg lights.

He chose his words carefully. He emphasized certain elements of his report, particularly where he and Barr seemed to differ, purposely. He wanted to make clear where his hands were tied, why they were tied and what that tying them meant for his ability to bring a case against Trump.

What Mueller was saying Wednesday is actually better understood by what he was not saying — and what he was not saying was that the President of the United States was an innocent victim in all of this.

If he had meant that, he would have said so.

The upshot is that Trump has to be impeached. Whether that will happen or not is another question.

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