With his confusing, contradictory, and ever-changing comments about the results of his investigation of President Trump, Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a mockery of the criminal justice system.
In that system, there is no place for concluding that the subject of an investigation is not criminally charged but is not exonerated. To say, “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so” makes as much sense as saying, “The moon could be made of blue cheese, we just don’t know.”
Nor is there any place for implying that a subject would be criminally charged if it were not for the fact that he is president. As Mueller’s own report makes clear, Trump neither colluded with the Russian government nor corruptly covered up, destroyed evidence, or made false statements to mislead investigators, as happened during Watergate when President Nixon clearly obstructed justice.
Now the question of how this outrageous process ever started becomes even more important. While the initial FBI investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election was entirely legitimate, the subsequent counterintelligence investigation that specifically targeted Trump after he fired James Comey as FBI director was based on false pretenses.