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Dana Milbank: An invitation to impeach, in Mueller-speak

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02.06.2019

Robert Mueller is that rare public figure who, in this age of bombast and baloney, still uses language with discipline and economy.

For two years as special counsel, he said not a word in public, and his office sprung nary a leak. Even when his purported friend Attorney General William Barr seriously mischaracterized his findings before releasing the report, Mueller kept quiet.

Finally, Mueller emerged in front of the cameras at the Justice Department on Wednesday morning to say that ... well, he doesn't wish to say anything more.

"It is important the office's written work speak for itself," he said, and "the report is my testimony," and "we chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself."

This linguistic caution makes it all the more noteworthy that Mueller did depart from the report's language in one area: President Trump's criminality. A "president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional," Mueller said. "Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited." Charging the president with a crime, he said, "was therefore not an option."

Unconstitutional. Prohibited. Not an option. This was stronger language than the report used, and........

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