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Mueller: 'If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so' – live

The Guardian logo The Guardian 5/29/2019 Lauren Gambino in Washington
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8.26pm BST

Speaking at an event in California, Pelosi continues to temper calls for impeachment.

She said nothing is “off the table” but that they want an “ironclad” and “compelling” case before opening a process like impeachment.

“We want to do what is right and what gets results,” she said.

Pelosi called Mueller’s comments today a “valuable contribution” to Congress’s ongoing investigations into Trump and his administration.

“If he saw any evidence that the president was innocent, he would have let us know,” she said, hammering the point that neither Mueller or the report exonerated Trump.

She also noted that only a small minority of her caucus supports impeachment. The press, she said, likes to focus on the fraction of Democrats who have publicly called for impeachment but insisted that the vast majority remained wary.

Replay Video

8.14pm BST

House speaker Nancy Pelosi reacts to Mueller's statement – watch

7.56pm BST

Kirsten Gillibrand is the latest 2020 candidate to call on Congress to launch impeachment hearings:

“From the beginning, I have called for a proper process in order to secure key testimony and information related to the Mueller investigation, so that Congress - as a co-equal branch of government - can fulfill its responsibility to deliver the truth to the American people. But the White House has repeatedly stonewalled Congress’ ability to take basic fact-finding steps and make an informed decision,” the New York senator said. “Combined with the fact that Robert Mueller clearly expects Congress to exercise its constitutional authority and take steps that he could not, it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to begin impeachment hearings and follow the facts wherever they may lead.”

7.39pm BST

Joe Biden stopped short of endorsing impeachment in a statement that said the process may be “unavoidable”.

7.25pm BST

Bernie Sanders takes a step closer to calling for impeachment after Mueller’s comments today.

“Given the reality that we have a president who believes he is above the law, Congress must continue its investigations,” he said on Twitter. “If the House Judiciary Committee deems it necessary, I will support their decision to open an impeachment inquiry.”

7.13pm BST

In a “gaggle” with reporters, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House is preparing for an impeachment fight.

“We’re always prepared but I don’t think the American people deserve that,” she said, according to a transcript provided by the pool report. “Every single minute that Congress spends on that we’re not spending on infrastructure, we’re not spending on lower prescription drug prices, we’re not spending on Iran, China, North Korea, new trade deals. Every single thing that they’re doing is taking away from things that could actually help the American people and that’s a great disservice.”

7.13pm BST

Nadler on impeachment: 'all options are on the table'

House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler said all “options are on the table” including impeachment.

At a press conference in New York, he reiterated that “nothing should be ruled out” but did not go further than he has in the past on the matter of impeachment.

Nadler’s committee has been in negotiations with the special counsel’s office over the possibility of Mueller testifying before his panel.

But on Wednesday afternoon, asked if Nadler intended to subpoena the special counsel, the Democrat said: “Mr. Mueller told us a lot of what we need to hear today.”

Mueller stressed in his remarks on Wednesday that he preferred not to make any further public comments on his investigation and its findings and that, if called to testify, he would not say anything beyond what was contained in the report.

Updated at 7.22pm BST

7.12pm BST

House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler reacts to Robert Mueller’s statement – watch

Updated at 8.14pm BST

6.47pm BST

Man lights himself on fire near the White House

The Secret Service has made a gruesome announcement via Twitter that someone just set fire to themselves and is being treated at the scene.

6.43pm BST

Senate intelligence committee vice chairman Mark Warner has commented:

“As the Special Counsel made clear today, it’s up to Congress to uphold the rule of law, and ensure this never happens again. Going forward, we must take steps to protect our democracy by passing legislation that enhances election security.”

6.13pm BST

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tiptoed around calls for impeachment in a new statement responding to Mueller’s remarks. In her comments, she praised Mueller for his work and vowed to continue investigating the Trump administration.

“The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power,” she said. “The Congress will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy. The American people must have the truth.”

6.06pm BST

Former South Carolina Democratic party chair Jamie Harrison on Wednesday launched his campaign for the Senate seat held by Lindsey Graham.

Here’s his launch video:

5.52pm BST

Meanwhile, the Russia-related investigations continue. CNN reports that Andrew Miller, an associated of Roger Stone, will testify on Friday.

Miller has been fighting a subpoena to testify for more than a year. Stone, a longtime confidant of the president, was arrested earlier this year and charged with obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress.

5.27pm BST

Meanwhile, Republicans are circling the wagons around Trump.

“Today’s statement by Mr. Mueller reinforces the findings of his report. And as for me, the case is over,” said Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a critic-turned-ally of the president’s. “Mr. Mueller has decided to move on and let the report speak for itself. Congress should follow his lead.”

On the issue of obstruction, Graham said:

“The Mueller team failed to reach a conclusion and turned that task over to the Attorney General. The Attorney General, in concert with then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, decided that as a matter of fact and law, an obstruction case against President Trump was not warranted. As the Mueller report indicated, a possible obstruction case was a hodgepodge of complicated facts and law.”

5.24pm BST

More 2020 candidates react to Mueller’s comments:

Updated at 5.29pm BST

5.11pm BST

In a new statement, press secretary Sarah Sanders echoes Trump and declares ‘case closed’.

The Special Counsel has completed the investigation, closed his office, and has closed the case. Mr. Mueller explicitly said that he has nothing to add beyond the report, and therefore, does not plan to testify before Congress. The report was clear—there was no collusion, no conspiracy—and the Department of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction.

Notably, Sanders shifts the language in her statement to specify that the DOJ – as opposed to the report – cleared Trump of obstruction of justice.

After reading the report, Barr said the special counsel’s findings identify “no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct.”

But today Mueller said explicitly that if investigators had had confidence that Trump had not obstructed justice they would have said so.

Sanders also defends Barr’s handling of the report.

“Special Counsel Mueller also stated that Attorney General Barr acted in good faith in his handling of the report. After two years, the Special Counsel is moving on with his life, and everyone else should do the same.”

Updated at 5.19pm BST

5.05pm BST

The ranking Republican on the House Judiciary committee, Doug Collins, said that Mueller “confirmed today what we knew months ago when his report was released: there was no collusion and no obstruction.”

“Re-litigating the 2016 election and reinvestigating the special counsel’s findings will only further divide our country,” Collins added.

5.00pm BST

Senator Cory Booker, who is running for president in 2020, has called on Congress to begin impeachment.

This is the first time the New Jersey senator has explicitly called for impeachment proceedings. He previously said he wanted to see the full unredacted report before making a decision.

Booker is part of a growing number of Democratic lawmakers who believe it’s time to begin impeachment proceedings.

4.50pm BST

House Judiciary chair: Congress must respond to Trump's 'crimes, lies and other wrongdoing'

House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler said Mueller’s comments made clear that the responsibility now lies with Congress “to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump.”

In a statement, Nadler, whose committee could launch impeachment proceedings, said Mueller confirmed for the public that he “did not exonerate” Trump of obstruction of justice.

“Although Department of Justice policy prevented the Special Counsel from bringing criminal charges against the President, the Special Counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel’s findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the Special Counsel’s report, and is lying in saying that the Special Counsel found no obstruction and no collusion. Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so. No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law.”

4.40pm BST

Trump: 'The case is closed'

Trump has weighed in on Mueller’s comments:

Trump’s tone is tepid compared to his past comments on Mueller’s investigation. He has previously called the investigation a “witch hunt” tainted by political bias.

Updated at 4.59pm BST

4.32pm BST

Michigan congressman Justin Amash, the only Republican to publicly call for Trump’s impeachment, responds to Mueller’s remarks:

4.26pm BST

We’re starting to get some reactions to Mueller’s comments.

Democrats are seizing on the disparity between what Barr said Mueller told him and what Mueller said today.

In his remarks, Mueller made it explicitly clear that the special counsel could not even “consider” filing criminal charges against a sitting president because of longstanding DOJ policy. Barr has said previously that the opinion was not a major factor in Mueller’s findings.

4.14pm BST

Mueller said he does not believe it would be appropriate for him to speak further about his investigation beyond his report and his statement today.

If he is called before Congress, he said he would not speak beyond what is contained in the report, Mueller said.

“That is the office’s final conclusion and we will not comment on any other ... conclusions or hypotheticals,” he said.

Beyond what I’ve said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress,” he said.

He ended his remarks by re-stating his report’s findings “that there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election and that allegation deserves the attention of every American”.

Updated at 4.34pm BST

4.07pm BST

Mueller: Investigators did not have confidence the president did not commit a crime

If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” he said.

He added, citing a DOJ policy: “Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”

He explained that the investigation was bound by longstanding DOJ policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted. He said it would have been “unfair” to accuse someone of a crime when that person would not have the opportunity to stand trial and defend himself.

Updated at 4.30pm BST

4.03pm BST

Mueller says investigation is formally closed and resigns from DoJ

Mueller said he is holding a press conference to announce that the investigation has been formally closed and that he is resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life.

We are formally closing the special counsel’s office and as well I’m resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life,” he said.

Updated at 4.05pm BST

3.47pm BST

Pool reporter David Martosko of the Daily Mail has just come from press secretary Sarah Sanders’s office.

He sends this dispatch in response to news that Mueller will make a statement. A press aide said a “a half-hour meeting” was about to convene with senior press staff. That followed what a different aide described as “a brief call” that involved senior press staff.

Sarah Sanders advised your pooler that the president is monitoring the Mueller situation but wouldn’t comment on where he is: “He’s aware” [of] Mueller’s remarks are coming, she said.

Sanders had no comment on a question about whether the White House has any advance knowledge about what Mueller is going to say at 11:00 a.m. Your pooler scanned the room and didn’t see anyone who appeared visibly uncomfortable with the question, and is not drawing any conclusions.

Sanders also had no comment on a question about whether the president is planning to make a public statement after Mueller speaks.

3.28pm BST

Meanwhile, CBS has announced that it will air a sit-down interview with the attorney general, Bill Barr, on Thursday. It will be the first network interview since Mueller’s report was released.

An excerpt will air on Thursday and the full interview will air on Friday.

Updated at 4.04pm BST

3.24pm BST

The White House was notified “last night” that Mueller would make a statement on Wednesday, according to a senior White House official.

Notably, Trump has no public events scheduled for today.

Updated at 3.50pm BST

3.12pm BST

Adding to the intrigue about what Mueller might say:

3.08pm BST

Here’s some details on what Mueller will talk about today:

2.45pm BST

Mueller to speak on special counsel's report

Special counsel Robert Mueller will make a public statement for the first time about his nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mueller will deliver the statement at 11 am ET today, according to the Justice Department. There will be no question and answer period to follow, the department said.

Mueller investigated Russia meddling in 2016 presidential election. He concluded that there was not enough evidence to convict Trump’s campaign of conspiracy with Russia but did lay out 11 possible instances of obstruction of justice and suggested Congress should decide how to proceed.

House Democrats and the White House are in an escalating dispute over investigations into the instances of possible obstruction of justice.

Updated at 2.54pm BST

2.41pm BST

While the president mocks climate science, Connecticut is one step closer to becoming the first state to mandate that schools teach students about the impact of human-induced climate change.

The state’s Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the bill on Tuesday after a long debate and sharp criticism from skeptical Republicans, reports the Hartford Courant.

According to the paper, the bill would “require the teaching of climate change as part of the public school science curriculum, starting in 5th grade. Most scientists and many policymakers, including those at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, say the state will feel the effects of a warming climate in coming years and must take steps to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.”

Updated at 2.41pm BST

2.35pm BST

Last Thanksgiving, while Trump was at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, he received a visit from an uninvited guest.

Eighteen-year-old University of Wisconsin student Mark Lindblom pleaded guilty to entering the president’s so-called winter White House last fall while the president was there.

“I wanted to see how far I could get,” the college freshman told a federal magistrate on Tuesday, according to a report in the the Palm Beach Post.

This is the first of two security breaches at Mar-A-Lago in the past six months. Last month, a Chinese national carrying a thumb drive containing malicious software was arrested after gaining access to the resort even though she was not a member.

2.24pm BST

Democrats have accused Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell of being a hypocrite after he said on Tuesday that he would push through any nomination Donald Trump makes to the Supreme Court next year.

But when Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland in 2016, McConnell refused to consider him during a presidential election year, saying that the “American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.”

At a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Paducah, Kentucky, on Tuesday, an attendee asked: “Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?”

“Oh, we’d fill it,” McConnell said with a grin, drawing some laughs from the audience.

His response prompted a torrent of criticism from Democrats, still furious that he denied Obama’s nominee a hearing.

Read more here.

Updated at 2.27pm BST

2.02pm BST

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of US politics from Washington.

Donald Trump has Alabama on his mind. In a pair of Tweets, Trump discouraged Roy Moore from running for the seat after he lost to Democrat Roy Jones in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls while maintaining he has “NOTHING against” the judge.

Fresh from his trip to Japan, Trump has a relatively light public schedule today. At 12.15pm, he participates in the ceremonial swearing-in of the president and chairman of the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank.

Elsewhere, the 2020 presidential candidates are campaigning across the country: Joe Biden is in Texas. Kamala Harris is in South Carolina. Bernie Sanders is in Nevada.

And there’s more juice from Michael Wolff’s new book, which is filled with salacious details from unnamed sources. In a key passage, the former White House adviser Steve Bannon reportedly described the Trump Organization as a criminal entity and predicted that investigations into the president’s finances will lead to his political downfall, when he is revealed to be “not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag”.

But a note of caution when devouring the book: “With so many unnamed sources, Trump’s compulsion for hyperbole and Wolff’s own journalistic record, it’s hard to know which tidbits to trust. It makes more sense to read Siege less as a news report and more as a rhetorical gambit – a twisted bid to burnish Bannon’s anti-establishment legacy,” writes the New York Times’ Jennifer Szalai in her review of the book.


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