[image-1] Hours after special counsel Robert Mueller broke his silence on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, senators and representatives from South Carolina were quick to call for the American public to move on.
Speaking from the Justice Department on Wednesday morning, Mueller emphasized that the report stemming from his two-year probe did not clear President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” he said.
He hinted that while DOJ guidelines prohibited him from indicting a sitting president, Congress has the power to take matters into its own hands. Some Democrats have taken that as a call to begin impeachment proceedings against the president.
“Today’s statement by Mr. Mueller reinforces the findings of his report,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in a statement sent to press. “And as for me, the case is over.”
“As to obstruction, the Mueller team failed to reach a conclusion and turned that task over to the Attorney General,” Graham continued. “The Attorney General, in concert with then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, decided that as a matter of fact and law, an obstruction case against President Trump was not warranted.”
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said that Mueller’s remarks showed nothing new.
“He said nothing today we did not already know from the initial release of the Mueller report, and I hope we can all now move forward, stop these endless investigations and keep working on behalf of the American people,” Scott said in a statement.
Mueller’s public statements come after Attorney General William Barr (who previously said that Mueller was “proposing an unprecedented expansion of obstruction laws”) delivered a cautiously optimistic summary of Mueller’s report in April and cleared the president of obstruction of justice.
Mueller’s 448-page report, which was eventually released with redactions, outlines various ways in which Trump tried to stop his investigation, including the firing of FBI Director James Comey (which Trump admitted in a TV interview was, in part, inspired by the Russia investigation) and his calls to White House counsel Don McGahan to have Mueller removed.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that Mueller’s report was a “complete and total exoneration.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan, who represents parts of the Upstate in the 3rd Congressional District, dismissed attempts by Congress to investigate the issue of obstruction of justice on its own.
“What could an impartial congressional investigation possibly reveal that Mr. Mueller could not in 2 years with over $25 million tax dollars used, and with 19 lawyers and 40 FBI agents working the investigation?” he asked in a Facebook post. “This must end! It’s time to move on!”
Rep. Tom Rice, who represents Pee Dee and coastal areas in the 7th Congressional District, took to Facebook with a similar message.
“This case is closed… again!,” he wrote “It’s time to move on and get back to work on issues that matter to South Carolinians and the American people!”
Unsurprisingly, the divide in S.C. falls along party lines.
“The gravity of the issues revealed in the Mueller report require the bicameral and bipartisan participation of the United States Congress,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat who represents parts of Charleston.
“The Trump Administration must stop its stonewalling and Congressional Republicans need to end their dereliction of duty and participate in the Congressional oversight we are required to conduct,” he added.
Rep. Joe Cunningham, the only other South Carolina Democrat in Congress, seized on another assertion that Mueller made in his parting shot Wednesday, saying that systematic efforts were made to undermine the 2016 elections.
“Today, Mueller delivered a stark reminder to us all that Congress needs to take immediate action to secure our elections before it is too late. Mitch McConnell must allow the Senate to vote on H.R. 1, legislation the House passed to protect our election systems,” Cunningham said in a statement calling for further investigation.
“The Administration must stop stonewalling and obstructing Congressional investigations and subpoenas,” Cunningham said.