Mueller, in First Comments on Russia Inquiry, Declines to Clear Trump – The New York Times

[As special counsel, Mr. Mueller kept such a low profile he seemed almost invisible.]

“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,” Mr. Mueller and his investigators wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

After Mr. Barr framed the findings, Mr. Trump declared himself vindicated. And Mr. Barr was said to be frustrated that Mr. Mueller did not make a decision about charging Mr. Trump for any of those 11 instances and instead left it to Mr. Barr.

Democratic lawmakers want to hear from Mr. Mueller directly about whether he would have recommended charges were it not for the Justice Department’s position that a sitting president could not be indicted.

Mr. Trump announced last week that he was delegating extraordinary powers to Mr. Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia inquiry and declassify documents from American intelligence agencies. The move prompted concerns among Democrats and current and former national security officials about the politicization of intelligence, such as the administration declassifying only materials that support Mr. Trump’s view that the investigators illegally opened the inquiry.

The debate over whether Mr. Mueller would testify to Congress started even before the report was released. And Mr. Trump has vacillated on whether House Democrats could question Mr. Mueller while he was an employee of the Justice Department.

The House Judiciary Committee has recommended that Mr. Barr be held in contempt of Congress for his refusal to release the entire report and underlying evidence. Portions of the report were redacted to protect secret grand jury information, privacy and open investigations.

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