Gov. Ron DeSantis isn't backing down in his support for President Donald Trump, despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Wednesday morning statement that declined to clear the president
of obstruction of justice.
"If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," Mueller told reporters yesterday during a public appearance at the Justice Department
, marking the Special Counsel's first public characterization of the more than two-year-old investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In his remarks, Mueller noted that while Justice Department policy doesn't allow a sitting president to be charged with a crime, the U.S. Constitution does allow Congress to conduct impeachment proceedings.
Still, in speaking with reporters during DeSantis' visit to the City of David archaeological dig in Jerusalem earlier today, DeSantis scoffed.
"Here's what I can tell you as a prosecutor: Prosecutors are not in the business of exonerating," DeSantis said in response to Mueller's assertion, according to Israel National News
. "If there's enough evidence to charge and prosecute, you do it. If there's not, then that's the end of the story."
"I don't understand this inverting the standard to say, 'Well, we couldn't quite exonerate.' That's not the way it workers. And so I think Attorney General [William] Bar was correct in his analysis," DeSantis said, referring to Barr's summary
of the Special Counsel's report that claimed to exonerate the president, which has since been proven inaccurate
"There was definitely no collusion," DeSantis added.
In statements provided to Orlando Weekly
after Mueller's remarks yesterday, several Central Florida elected officials disagreed.
"The Mueller Report documented 11 instances of obstruction of justice
, but Mr. Mueller was barred from criminally charging the president for his corruption and criminal cover up," said U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando, in a statement yesterday afternoon, following Mueller's remarks. "President Trump and his collaborators, five of whom have pleaded or been found guilty of federal crimes, sold out our country for their own gain."
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, seconded that in a separate statement Wednesday afternoon.
"Special Counsel Mueller reiterated today that following a thorough investigation there’s substantial evidence Russia attacked our democracy by intervening in our 2016 elections," Soto said. "If Mueller was confident President Trump did not commit a crime by obstructing the investigation, he would have clearly stated so. Yet the fact remains the president’s involvement led to over 11 counts of obstruction of justice."
Soto added: "The constitution is clear: we cannot charge a sitting President through the Department of Justice. So it is incumbent upon Congress to do its job and continue this investigation based on the considerable evidence."
DeSantis' reasoning for doubling down is pretty clear. Florida's youngest governor hitched his wagon to Trump last year during the GOP gubernatorial primaries, and it was the president's multiple endorsements that pushed DeSantis over the edge against his opponent, Florida's supposed golden boy politician, former Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Now, it seems it's time for DeSantis to pay up in return.
Noting that Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is facing pressure from her own party to begin impeachment proceedings, DeSantis said, "Someone like Pelosi's in a tough spot ... because the activists in the party want to see impeachment. The broader public I think wants to move on from Russian and focus on some of the things that matter."
"They're not really doing anything that I can see to benefit the American people and I think that's the problem, so I would focus on substance and move on from this," DeSantis added.
Move on, move on, nothing to see here. What else is new?
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