SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/CNN) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler resisted pressure from the left to open an impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, following special counsel Robert Mueller’s announcement he’s closing his office and would not provide information beyond his already public report in any appearance before Congress.
Both Democratic leaders pledged to continue the House’s various investigations into alleged wrongdoing by President Donald Trump and maintained all options — including impeachment — remain on the table. But, Pelosi noted, only about 15% of House Democrats are “outspoken on impeachment” at this time.
“Nothing is off the table,” said Pelosi.
In delivering a brief statement at the Department of Justice where he took no questions, Mueller made it clear that any testimony from him would not go beyond what was already in his report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election. “I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress,” said Mueller. “I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress.”
Despite these statements, Pelosi said she still thinks Mueller should testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
“I do think it would be important because the American people still have not seen an unredacted Mueller report,” Pelosi told reporters after a Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco. “While he may have thought these were the priority points to make to the public, there may be questions relating to these facts that members of Congress will have, so I still hope that he would come before Congress.”
When asked what she expect Mueller to say given his earlier statements, she responded, “I think that there’s clarification and confirmation. The report has been misrepresented grossly by the Attorney General and while I have the utmost respect for Special Counsel Mueller and the work that his team did, I have total disrespect for the Attorney General of the United States.”
Would she subpoena Muller? “We’ll take this one step at a time,” she said. “The Judiciary Committee is the committee of jurisdiction. They have the request – they will make the decision about how they want to proceed. Jerry Nadler and members of the committee are very informed and I trust their judgment.”
Pelosi also called for the unredacted Mueller report to be made public. Currently, redacted information is either (1) grand jury materials, (2) information from U.S. intelligence agencies where officials are concerned about compromising sources and methods, (3) details that could reveal information about other ongoing investigations, or (4) derogatory information about non-public officials who are not accused of a crime.
Mueller emphasized that Justice Department guidelines did not allow him to charge a sitting President, and as a result his office did not determine whether the President had committed obstruction of justice. Mueller said the probe could not clear Trump and that charging the President was not an option his office could consider.
“If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not however make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.”
Still, Pelosi stopped short of calling for impeachment. “You don’t bring an impeachment unless you have all of the facts and thee strongest possible case so that the President is held accountable one way or another,” said Pelosi.
Nadler would not say whether he would subpoena Mueller’s testimony.
“Mr. Mueller told us a lot of what we need to hear today,” Nadler said during a news conference.
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Wednesday added their names to the list of presidential candidates calling for impeachment proceedings.
But Pelosi said candidates for President will not drive the decision-making in the House of Representatives. “I think that, most of them don’t have a vote in the House of Representatives. I have complete respect for them and I know better than anybody because I travel the country all the time, the sentiment in the country for impeaching the President. But I do also know that we have to do it to get the result, we have to get the facts. The people of American deserve the truth and we will take them there. We won’t be swayed by a few people who think one way or another who are running for President – as much as I respect all of them and they have the freedom to be for impeachment, we have a responsibility to get a result for the American people.”
Raw Video: House Speaker Pelosi Remarks On Mueller Report, Impeachment
After Mueller’s announcement that he would retire from the Justice Department, Nadler and Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the panel, each said the special counsel confirmed their contradictory views of the report’s conclusions.
“In his statement this morning, special counsel Mueller reaffirmed his report, which found substantial evidence that Russia attacked our political system and that the President sought to obstruct Mueller’s investigation over and over again,” said Nadler. “He also confirmed three central points: he did not exonerate the President of the United States of obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice is a serious crime that strikes at the core of our justice system, and the Constitution points to Congress to take action to hold the President accountable.”
But Collins said Mueller found “there was no collusion and no obstruction” and urged the country to “move on” from the investigation to other issues.
“Relitigating the 2016 election and reinvestigating the special counsel’s findings will only further divide our country,” said Collins. “I appreciate special counsel Mueller highlighting the grave threat Russian interference in our elections poses to our democracy.”
Pelosi has said that impeachment would be divisive for the country. She’s said that Trump is “taunting” Democrats to impeach him in stonewalling their various investigations to rally his political base ahead of the 2020 elections. And she again urged her members on Wednesday to stick to the party line of advocating for investigations rather an impeachment.
“The Congress will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy,” said Pelosi.
But some Democrats have bucked their leaders in the past few weeks, as Attorney General Bill Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn defied subpoena requests to testify before the House Judiciary committee. Mueller’s public remarks compelled Sen. Cory Booker, a presidential candidate, to announce his support for impeachment proceedings to begin in the House.
“We have one remaining path to ensure justice is served,” said Booker. “It is our legal and moral obligation to hold those who have committed crimes accountable.”
Even if the House voted to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to convict him on any charge such as obstruction of justice.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that the special counsel team turned over its report to Barr, who found Trump didn’t obstruct justice even though Mueller detailed multiple potential instances of it. One of the key episodes the special counsel cited in the investigation, for example, was in 2017 when the President told McGahn to fire Mueller and McGahn refused.
“Without an underlying offense or collusion, and the overwhelming cooperation by the Trump White House with the Mueller investigation, the attorney general’s decision on obstruction is sound,” said Graham. “It will be the final word in my view.”
“As for me, the case is over,” said Graham.
Melissa Caen contributed to this report.
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