The report, says Cicilline, “details unacceptable, unpatriotic, and unethical conduct and a sustained effort by the President to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation.”
United States Representative David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island) held a press conference in his Pawtucket office early on Friday to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s report on President Donald Trump and the Russian efforts to influence the 2017 presidential election. Ahead of taking questions from the reporters in the room, Cicilline read the following statement:
“This is a damning report on the misconduct of the sitting President of the United States and in the Special Counsel’s own words, ‘does not exonerate the President.
“It details unacceptable, unpatriotic, and unethical conduct and a sustained effort by the President to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation.
“The Mueller Report established without doubt that the Russians, in a sophisticated and effective intelligence campaign, attacked our democracy in the 2016 Presidential campaign.
“What is even more disturbing in some ways, is that these efforts were embraced and encouraged by candidate, Donald J Trump. The report concludes that the Trump team was aware and openly supportive of Russian attempts to interfere in the election because ‘the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.’
“The Trump campaign benefited from this attack on our democracy and the President has, according to the evidence collected, attempted to impede or interfere with the investigation of these matters.
“The report lays out multiple instances where the President tried to obstruct the investigation and states “our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.”
“The report explains ‘[t]he President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.’
“Specifically the President:
- Tried to remove the Special Counsel
- Tried to improperly force Attorney General Session to unrecuse
- Asked Director Comey to let Flynn off the hook
- Attempted to curtail the investigation of the Special Counsel
- Fired FBI Director Comey over concerns about an investigation into his campaign and the Russia investigation
- Ordered Don McGahn to deny the President tried to fire him even though he had
- Attempted to conceal details of the June 9th Trump Tower meeting of Trump campaign officials with the Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton, and
- Attempted to have KT McFarland create a false witness statement
“The Special Counsel did not reach a traditional charging decision because of the Department of Justice policy that a sitting President could not be indicted. The report makes clear, however, that ‘if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.’
“The Special Counsel then wrote, in order to be absolutely clear on this point, ‘Accordingly, while this report does not conclude the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’
Congress has a constitutional responsibility to continue its oversight and investigations.
The Special Counsel’s report paints a disturbing picture of a president who has been weaving a web of deceit, lies, and improper behavior and acting as if the law does not apply to him.
The Report explains ‘Congress has authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice” which “accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.’
“Congress must obtain the full contents of this report as soon as possible and Mr Mueller must testify before Congress. This is the only way to restore public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation. The American people deserve to hear the truth.
“The conduct of the Attorney General has been outrageous. His misleading 4-page summary of the special counsel’s report and his premature press conference were both clear evidence of his attempt to shape the narrative for the benefit of the President, rather than being forthright with the American people.
“Attorney General Barr deliberately distorted significant portions of Special Counsel Mueller’s report.
“The Attorney General statement yesterday morning that the White House ‘fully cooperated’ with the investigation is not true. The report makes clear that the President refused to be interviewed by the Special Counsel and provide written answer to follow-up questions. In addition, according to the report, his associates destroyed evidence relative to the Russia investigation.
“The President has refused to provide the American people with a full and honest explanation of his actions and he must do so.”
Here’s Cicilline delivering his statement on video:
Asked if the actions of the President detailed in the Mueller Report rise to the level of impeachment, Cicilline said that the “report details several instances of obstruction of justice that would warrant a normal charge of obstruction of justice.”
Cicilline said that Congress was still engaged in fact finding, but that “all options remain on the table.”
Asked what questions he would pose to Mueller when the Special Counsel testifies before Congress, Cicilline said that he would like to ask about the “convergence of interest” that united the Trump Campaign with the Russian government but didn’t amount to a legal definition of conspiracy.
Cicilline also has concerns about the Department of Justice memo that declares that a sitting President cannot be indicted with a crime. “That is in fact contrary to our Constitution, which does not, in fact, reflect any such thing. We are all taught in grade school that no one is above the law. We don’t have a king, we have a president.”
As for the relationship between the United States and Russia going forward, “I believe we have to treat Russia as it is, a foreign adversary of the United States who is interested in destabilizing not only this democracy, but Western democracy throughout the world.”
Asked about Trump’s declaration, quoted in the Mueller Report, “Oh my God. This is terrible. Tis is the end of my presidency, I’m fucked,” Cicilline said that “I think that’s what we called, when i was a lawyer, consciousness of guilt, that people who are innocent don’t use language like that.”
Here’s the full video of the question and answer portion of the press conference.
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