Alan Dershowitz had a strong reaction to Mueller’s statement earlier today. Dershowitz wrote a piece for the Hill saying that prior to today he didn’t believe Mueller has a horse in this race. But after his statement today, Dershowitz believes he was wrong. He says Mueller effective put his elbow on the scales of justice today:
The statement by special counsel Robert Mueller in a Wednesday press conference that “if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said that” is worse than the statement made by then FBI Director James Comey regarding Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign…
Comey was universally criticized for going beyond his responsibility to state whether there was sufficient evidence to indict Clinton. Mueller, however, did even more. He went beyond the conclusion of his report and gave a political gift to Democrats in Congress who are seeking to institute impeachment proceedings against President Trump. By implying that President Trump might have committed obstruction of justice, Mueller effectively invited Democrats to institute impeachment proceedings. Obstruction of justice is a “high crime and misdemeanor” which, under the Constitution, authorizes impeachment and removal of the president.
Until today, I have defended Mueller against the accusations that he is a partisan. I did not believe that he personally favored either the Democrats or the Republicans, or had a point of view on whether President Trump should be impeached. But I have now changed my mind. By putting his thumb, indeed his elbow, on the scale of justice in favor of impeachment based on obstruction of justice, Mueller has revealed his partisan bias.
In some ways, Dershowitz isn’t saying anything that different from what Judge Napolitano said earlier today. Napolitano also thought that Mueller’s statement was a message to Democrats in Congress that he would have indicted Trump if he could have. And as Ed noted, that’s exactly how several Democrats interpreted it. All Dershowitz is adding is that Mueller’s effort to give Democrats a push looks pretty partisan.
Dershowitz concludes there is no explanation for today’s statement other than to encourage impeachment: “I cannot imagine a plausible reason why Mueller went beyond his report and gratuitously suggested that President Trump might be guilty, except to help Democrats in Congress and to encourage impeachment talk and action. Shame on Mueller for abusing his position of trust and for allowing himself to be used for such partisan advantage.”
Impeachment may satisfy Mueller and it may satisfy the Democratic base but there’s already a constitutional mechanism for removing Trump from office coming up in 18 months. It’s called an election. Democrats may think impeachment will help them do that but I don’t see a huge appetite for that among the public. I’m sure there will be some new polls out in the next few days to tell us if Mueller’s statement had any impact on the numbers. My guess is they won’t budge very much.