On May 17, 2017, Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation. On May 29, 2019—a month after the release of his report on the investigation, and almost exactly two years after he was first appointed—Mueller finally spoke.
Based only on the reaction to Mueller’s appearance, you could be forgiven for assuming that he had dropped a bombshell. “Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately,” tweeted the Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker. Booker’s fellow candidate Senator Kamala Harris had a similar reaction. Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell wrote, “Robert Mueller gave important context by saying ‘If we had confidence that the President did not commit a crime we would have said so.’” “This is huge,” said the CNN national-security reporter Jim Sciutto. Others pointed to Mueller’s comment that, on the basis of the Justice Department guidance against indicting a sitting president, “we concluded that we would not reach a determination … about whether the president committed a crime,” arguing that the statements definitively showed Attorney General William Barr’s previous comments on the matter to have been misleading.
The fact that this material is being treated as new when it has been available for weeks is indicative of a vast failure on the part of American institutions, which have not adequately grappled with the information conveyed in the Mueller report or presented it to the public with sufficient clarity.