• Max Stearns

The Most Important Paragraph in the Mueller Report


I'm still reading the Mueller Report, but my strong sense is that what follows is its single most important paragraph. It appears in volume II, p.2:

"Third, we considered whether to evaluate the conduct we investigated under the Justice Manual standards governing prosecution and declination decisions, but we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes. The threshold step under the Justice Manual standards is to assess whether a person’s conduct “constitutes a federal offense.” U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Justice Manual § 9-27.220 (2018) (Justice Manual). Fairness concerns counseled against potentially reaching that judgment when no charges can be brought. The ordinary means for an individual to respond to an accusation is through a speedy and public trial, with all the procedural protections that surround a criminal case. An individual who believes he was wrongly accused can use that process to seek to clear his name. In contrast, a prosecutor’s judgment that crimes were committed, but that no charges will be brought, affords no such adversarial opportunity for public name-clearing before an impartial adjudicator."

Contrary to everything Barr or Trump have stated, this demonstrates, clearly and succinctly, that Mueller chose not to make a definitive assessment on obstruction in fairness to the president, as a matter of due process, not to suggest in any way, shape, or form, that there is not potential evidence of obstruction that could violate criminal law. There is nothing to spin here. It is damning, and the fact that Mueller recognized the due process imperative of not having charges hanging over even the president that he would not have a means to refute, instead, as a basis for claiming vindication is to turn basic reason entirely on its head.

Comments, as always, are welcome.


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