‘No Exoneration!’ Is The New Rallying Cry. It’s True — But It’s Not The Whole Truth

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Media pundits and Democrats alike took up their new rallying cry — “no exoneration!” — with gusto as the “Russian collusion” narrative languished. But, while true, it is not the whole truth.

After months of pushing the narrative that President Donald Trump was probably guilty of collusion and obstruction of justice, Trump’s critics were forced to pivot with the Sunday release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s summary conclusions. (RELATED: Justice Department Delivers Mueller Conclusions To Congress — No Collusion)

Attorney General William Barr, in his memo summarizing Mueller’s conclusions, may have given them all the ammunition they needed in just one sentence. While noting that the report does not provide evidence that Trump or any member of his family or campaign committed any crime with regard to collusion or obstruction of justice, “it also does not exonerate him.”

And so “no exoneration” became the new talking point.

The Democrats picked it up immediately:

Journalists and media personalities joined in as well:

And the thing is, they’re 100 percent correct. But that’s not all.

Former Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has spent a fair amount of time as a prosecutor himself, noted the nuance of the legal term “exonerate.”

“On the charge of obstruction of justice, Bob Mueller’s report ‘does not conclude that the President committed a crime,'” Christie tweeted. “That’s an important finding because that is what prosecutors do—they prosecute, they do not exonerate. Why? Because we all enjoy the presumption of innocence.”


And Christie was not the only one to notice.

So the special counsel’s report, while making it clear that Mueller’s team found no evidence of any crime with regard to either collusion or obstruction of justice, did not exonerate the president because that’s not what it was supposed to do. (RELATED: Media Pummeled As Mueller Report Deals Death Blow To Russian Collusion Narrative)

Mueller was charged with investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives — and if he found evidence of such ties, prosecuting those involved. He was not charged with exonerating anyone, because, just like any other American, the president was to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

What Mueller also did not do was find evidence of any guilt — which means that legally speaking, the “exoneration” was already baked into the cake before the investigation even began.

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