Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) cut through the nonsense at Wednesday morning’s Robert Mueller testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and provided a bit of much-needed common sense.
Ratcliffe began his time by summarizing Mueller’s opening statement about his investigation in which he said the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, but the investigation made no official determination about whether the president obstructed justice by allegedly trying to halt the investigation into his campaign.
After Mueller agreed with Ratcliffe’s description of his opening statement, the Texas congressman focused in on the part of the Mueller report that lit a fire in the bellies of many leftists — the line that says the report cannot “exonerate” the president completely of obstruction of justice.
“You said at all times the special counsel team operated under and was guided by the Justice Department policies and principles, so which DOJ policy or principle sets forth a legal standard that an investigated person is not exonerated if their innocence from criminal conduct is not conclusive?” Ratfliffe asked Mueller.
“Can you repeat the last part of that question?” Mueller asked in what was just one of multiple times he needed a question repeated.
“Which DOJ policy or principle sets forth a legal standard that an investigated person is not exonerated if their innocence from criminal conduct is not conclusively determined?” Ratcliffe asked again.
After some stumbling from Mueller, Ratcliffe asked for an example of another investigation in which the burden of proof was not on the state and an investigated person was not cleared of charges if the state failed to make their case.
Rep. John Ratcliffe asks if Mueller can cite an example besides Trump where the DOJ "determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined"
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 24, 2019
“I cannot,” Mueller answered, “but this is a unique situation.”
“Let’s just leave it at you can’t find it because I’ll tell you why: it doesn’t exist,” Ratcliffe threw back at Mueller.
The congressman continued, “[In] the special counsel’s job [description], nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or that the special counsel report should determine whether to exonerate him. It’s not in any of the documents. It’s not in your appointment order. It’s not in special counsel regulations. It’s not in the OLC opinion. It’s not in the Justice manual. And it’s not in the principles of federal prosecution.”
Ratfcliffe added to his fiery rant, “Nowhere do those words appear together because, respectfully, respectfully, director, it was not the special counsel’s job to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or to exonerate him because the bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence. It exists for everyone. Everyone is entitled to it, including sitting presidents.”
The congressman argued that because there is a presumption of innocence each citizen is entitled to, it is “never, ever” the job of an investigator to “conclusively” determine that innocence.
Ratcliffe later continued to go after Mueller for focusing so much on obstruction of justice in his report, despite there being no conclusive proof of the crime.
“You wrote 180 pages about decisions that weren’t reached,” the congressman said of the Mueller report’s focus on not clearing Trump of obstruction of justice charges.
The Texas congressman said to Mueller in one of the most heated moments of the hearing, “You managed to violate every principle and the most sacred of traditions about prosecutors not offering extra prosecutorial analysis about potential crimes that aren’t charged.”
The congressman reiterated that “Volume Two” of the Mueller report was simply not authorized.
Ratcliffe then said of the president, “Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not, but he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law which is where this Volume Two of this report puts him.”
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