The next time you hear someone say, "No one — not even the president — is above the law," it's OK to laugh.
It's OK, because even when special counsel Robert Mueller and his team began the investigation into the Russian interference into our 2016 election, the Trump campaign's possible conspiracy with it and President Trump's in-plain-sight obstruction of the probe, the investigators knew they would not — could not — charge a sitting president.
They could not charge him because of Justice Department policy, which holds that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime by Justice Department officials, Mueller said last Wednesday. That in itself was a clear repudiation of Attorney General Bill Barr's previous assertion that Mueller wasn't constrained by policy, but rather found "no evidence" of collusion.
Mueller, in his report and in his public statement, referred to the DOJ policy and said he found "insufficient evidence." Insufficient is not the same as "no evidence."
And since the investigators could not charge the president, they thought it was unfair to accuse him. Because if he was not charged in court, he could not defend himself in court.
But Mueller and his team couldn't clear the president, either — especially on questions of obstructing justice.
Standing alone Wednesday on a stage in a room used for news conferences on the Justice Department's seventh floor, Mueller said, "If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so."
So from the get-go, the president was "above the law."
This doesn't mean nothing can be done. Not exactly, anyway.
Mueller said the Constitution "requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing." He was referring to Congressional investigations and possible impeachment.
Mueller called the interference by a foreign power in our election system "of paramount importance," and said that obstructing an investigation "strikes at the core of the government's effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable."
He said as much several times in his April-released, 448-page report — which he referred to last week as "my testimony."
In that report, the evidence is laid out so well that neither we nor Congress needs Rand McNally to help us follow the roadmap the special counsel drew to pursue impeachment. And impeachment is not constrained by DOJ policy.
But the House of Representatives — even among Democrats — remains split on the impeachment question.
They aren't split on the facts laid out in the report. They are split on the politics of the upcoming 2020 election in which Trump is seeking a second term.
Since the Republican-majority Senate is unlikely to find the president guilty of House-voted articles of impeachment, some Democrats — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi key among them — think impeachment would make the president "a victim" and thus strengthen his electability for a second term.
Taken altogether, our president is — for all intents and purposes — above the law.
So laugh. Through your tears.
Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and the other founders of our country and writers of our Constitution — the very ones who wrote the guidelines of impeachment should the need arise — must be spinning in their graves.
In typical Trump fashion, the president, when the Mueller report was first released months ago, claimed "complete and total exoneration."
Even a cursory read of the Mueller report proves that to be baloney.
This week, when Mueller in his first public statement since the probe began, once more declined to clear the president," Trump changed his tune a tad. The president tweeted: "Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you."
Unless Congress grows a sense of morality, not only is this president above the law, he just became the judge and dismissed the case.