In a Wednesday morning press conference, special counsel Robert Mueller reiterated that his team had found insufficient evidence to accuse President Donald Trump of conspiring with Russia to influence the outcome of the election, but he did not rule out the possibility that the president had obstructed justice.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”
Mueller’s first public statement since the release of the report on his investigation highlighted the legal limits of the actions Mueller could take against the president.
“The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Mueller said. Many lawmakers took this statement as a suggestion for impeachment.
Justin Amash, a Republican representative from Michigan who has been outspoken against Trump, tweeted a call to action for his colleagues.
The ball is in our court, Congress. https://t.co/idpQo1xItH
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 29, 2019
Jerry Nadler, a Democratic representative from New York, also called on Congress to respond to Mueller’s investigation.
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. https://t.co/w61a8rRQeK
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) May 29, 2019
Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren was more direct, calling Mueller’s statement an “impeachment referral.”
Mueller’s statement makes clear what those who have read his report know: It is an impeachment referral, and it’s up to Congress to act. They should.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) May 29, 2019
She also tweeted a video of herself reading from the Mueller report on the US Senate floor.
I read the Mueller Report. In fact, I re-read portions of it on the floor of the United States Senate. It should be crystal clear to anyone who read the report: Congress must hold the President accountable.https://t.co/lN32DJmKC5
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 29, 2019
Fellow 2020 candidate Kamala Harris used similar language on Twitter.
What Robert Mueller basically did was return an impeachment referral. Now it is up to Congress to hold this president accountable.
We need to start impeachment proceedings. It's our constitutional obligation.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 29, 2019
And Cory Booker called impeachment Congress’ “legal and moral obligation.”
Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) May 29, 2019
Trump, however, seemed to take Mueller’s statement of “insufficient evidence” as an exoneration.
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