President Donald Trump continued to claim innocence after Robert Mueller staged a surprise press conference Wednesday morning, declaring that nothing had changed in the wake of Mueller’s unprecedented public appearance. “Case is closed!” the president said on Twitter.
Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2019
In doing so, Trump misleadingly conflated Mueller’s reference to insufficient evidence on collusion with his findings on obstruction. In his statement, Mueller specifically referred to the Justice Department’s longstanding policy that protects sitting presidents from being indicted on federal charges, and not any lack of evidence, as the governing reason for why the investigation did not lead to charges against Trump.
Mueller also repeated a central line from the special counsel’s report that if investigators had had “confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” The statement, Mueller’s first public remarks in more than two years, rebutted Trump’s persistent claims that the Mueller report was a clear acquittal of his actions and of allegations that he had attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation.
Trump’s response on Wednesday seemed to represent something of a shift, with “insufficient evidence” replacing the president’s previous declarations of “total exoneration.” His critics, including Rep. Justin Amash, offered a different view:
The ball is in our court, Congress. https://t.co/idpQo1xItH
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 29, 2019