Mueller must bluntly tell Congress whether he thinks Trump committed a crime or crimes: ex-DOJ official
Special Counsel Robert Mueller speaks about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (AFP / MANDEL NGAN)

Donald Ayer, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General under George H. W. Bush, penned an impassioned call in The Atlantic for former special counsel Robert Mueller to be direct with Congress and the American people in his testimony before the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees later this month.

"For two years, Mueller uttered not a single public word as he pursued his investigation, ignoring ceaseless verbal attacks from the president," wrote Ayer. "His silence was consistent with traditional prosecutorial practice, but highly uncharacteristic of most players in our media culture, including many prosecutors. When he finished, following the playbook laid out in the special-counsel regulations, he turned over his remarkable 448-page report to his nominal supervisor, Attorney General William Barr, on March 22, and sat back silently awaiting next steps."

Unfortunately, as Ayer noted, Barr proceeded to twist and distort the findings for political gain, saying that he determined the President Donald Trump did not commit obstruction of justice. For that reason, he argued, Mueller must abandon his caginess and offer his position on the matter directly.

"Anyone who has carefully read Volume II of the Mueller report knows that it offers a very readable account of repeated acts by the president carefully tailored to interfere with and disrupt the investigation, and that it offers an enormous amount of evidence to substantiate its narrative," wrote Ayer. "That is why more than 1,000 current and former prosecutors have come together to say that but for the departmental rules categorically foreclosing it, indictment of the president for obstruction would be well justified."

The big problem, in Ayer's view, is that few Americans, even lawmakers, have read Mueller's report. And that has led to spectacles like a Republican voter in Michigan expressing astonishment that her Rep. Justin Amash, who has since left the GOP, supported impeachment, as she had no idea the report said anything bad.

"Thus, if the arduous task Mueller undertook as special counsel included informing the American people and Congress about the facts and law surrounding the president's conduct in a way they would be likely to understand, he is not yet done," continued Ayer. "He needs to be more direct about what the investigation found. And there seems little doubt that an unambiguous direct statement by Mueller of his own prosecutorial judgment based on the work of his team and their assessment of the law—as other independent counsels have provided—would carry enormous weight, and do much to set the public record straight. He needs to tell us whether, in his view, the president obstructed justice."

"It is the only way he can finish the job, and the country's future depends on it," concluded Ayer.