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San Diego lawmakers react to Mueller's statements

Posted: 4:27 PM, May 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-29 19:26:59-04
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly for the first after his office's two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Mueller, who did not conclude the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government, also declined to clear President Trump of obstruction of justice.

"If we had had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so," Mueller said.

Mueller cited a longstanding justice department policy that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. It's based on an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, Mueller laid out the evidence, but it's up to Congress to act through impeachment.

Meanwhile, Trump has continued to fight congressional subpoenas in the wake of the investigation.

"If he continues with this behavior, I think it puts us in a position where we're headed down that road," said Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat who represents that 52nd district. "I'm concerned about the impression we leave if we don't do anything in the face of this behavior."

Peters stopped short of calling for impeachment Wednesday, as did Democratic Congressman Mike Levin.

Last week, Democratic Congressman Juan Vargas became the first San Diego lawmaker to call for removal from office.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, the county's loan Republican representative in Congress, issued a brief statement Wednesday defending the president.

"The case is closed," Hunter said. "Let's move on."

Glenn Smith, who teaches constitutional law at California Western in downtown San Diego, said the Justice Department's constitutional interpretation is controversial.

He points to a clause that says the penalty for impeachment cannot exceed removal from office and future disqualification. It continues that a convicted party shall be liable to the full legal system.

"The justice department relies on the argument that there's something unique about the office of the president," Smith said. "Involving the president in criminal proceedings before he's impeached and while he's still a sitting president would uniquely disrupt the president."

But Smith added the vice president and cabinet members can be indicted in office, so to say the president is unique is putting the president above the law. That's the counterargument to the Justice Department's policy.