I’m sorry to be a broken record on this, but this line from Robert Mueller infuriates me:
“If we had had confidence that the president had clearly not committed a crime we would have said so.” Mueller
— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) May 29, 2019
That’s not how it works in America. Investigators are supposed to look for evidence that a crime was committed, and, if they don’t find enough to contend that a crime was a committed, they are supposed to say “We didn’t find enough to contend that a crime was committed.” They are not supposed to look for evidence that a crime was not committed and then say, “We couldn’t find evidence of innocence.”
I understand that Mueller was in an odd position. I understand, too, that this wasn’t a criminal trial. But I don’t think those norms are rendered any less important by those facts. By asking the executive to investigate itself, it was guaranteed — yes, guaranteed — that we’d have a fight over “obstruction of justice.” For the architect of that investigation to keep saying “We aren’t exonerating our target” is extraordinary. Innocence is the default position in this country. If a person doesn’t have enough evidence that someone committed a crime to contend that a crime was committed, he is obliged to presume his innocence. “Not exonerated” is not a standard in our system, and it shouldn’t be one in our culture, either.