CNNers Declare: Trump Has Been ‘Cleared’ and ‘Exonerated’, Walk It Back

The assembled cast of CNN analysts, hosts, and journalists were staring down at their phones and printouts as they were reading Attorney General William Barr’s letter to Congress summarizing the Special Counsel report, Sunday afternoon on CNN Newsroom. They seemed almost mystified by the findings when they began to admit President Trump would not be facing charges. But then once they seemed to realize what they were saying, they began walking it back.

CNN crime and Justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz was one of the first to realize the truth. Reading from the third page of the letter and dubbing it “probably one of the most important lines in this”, Prokupecz said:

“In making the determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference and that while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President's intent with respect to obstruction.”

And on the suggestions of obstruction of justice by the President, they found nothing either. Reporter Pamela Brown reading: “I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction of justice offense.”

They’ve cleared him,” Prokupecz responded seemingly disappointed, with Brown right behind him saying, “They just cleared him.

Chief political analyst Gloria Borger immediately jumped in to spin the wording for Democrats:

 

 

BORGER: But it also says, and it quotes the special counsel saying, quote, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

PROKUPECZ: That’s right.

BROWN: And that is going to be what the Democrats, and they already have, counts on.

BORGER: That's going to be the nub right there.

Both Brown and chief political correspondent Dana Bash seemed shocked by how “this makes clear in these findings that they didn't see a case for obstruction of justice.” Bash also tried to spin the findings as still being open-ended, saying, “it's not that they didn't necessarily have all the goods, they couldn't prove it without a reasonable doubt.”

The President has just been exonerated,” Brown exclaimed, almost shouting. “Can we just take a step back and focus on the fact that this is nearly a two-year investigation that has swirled around the President since day one of his presidency, and he has just been exonerated.

After Situation Room anchor Wolf Blitzer noted how the letter said the decisions by investigators were “not based on the constitutional considerations” of charging a sitting president, Brown sought to walk back her exclamation:

Can I clarify something? It does say that they cannot conclude he committed a crime and it does not exonerate him. But for the President's purposes and his team's purposes, he's been exonerated. I wanted to clarify that.

Clearly, CNN is all over the place and can’t admit what the report means for Trump. Perhaps another good sign for the President. This is CNN.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN Newsroom
March 24, 2019
3:42:49 p.m. Eastern

SHIMON PROKUPECZ: On the third page, I think this will be – this is probably one of the most important lines in this. “In making the determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference and that while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President's intent with respect to obstruction.” So there you go. That is the key line here right now.

PAMELA BROWN: You have the collusion and also obstruction of justice, and it says, “I have concluded that the evidence developed during the special counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction of justice offense.” That is key. The president was -- this was what all the questions surrounded the President.

PROKUPECZ: They’ve cleared him.

BROWN: Did he obstruct justice? They just cleared him.

PROKUPECZ: They’ve cleared the President.

GLORIA BORGER: But it also says, and it quotes the special counsel saying, quote, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

PROKUPECZ: That’s right.

BROWN: And that is going to be what the Democrats, and they already have, counts on.

BORGER: That's going to be the nub right there.

BROWN: What stands out to me in reading about the obstruction of justice and saying there wasn't sufficient evidence to establish that is, they're saying, we never even had to get to the point of “you can't indict a sitting president” because we didn't have the evidence to support it. That is key and that might explain why they didn't pursue a subpoena against the President.

(…)

BASH: I just want to go back to the notion of obstruction of justice. Yes, this makes clear in these findings that they didn't see a case for obstruction of justice, but then if you kind of go down further, it also says that, “to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acting with corrupt intent engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to appending or contemplating proceeding.” Meaning, it's not that they didn't necessarily have all the goods, they couldn't prove it without a reasonable doubt.

BROWN: The president has just been exonerated. Can we just take a step back and focus on the fact that this is nearly a two-year investigation that has swirled around the President since day one of his presidency, and he has just been exonerated.

WOLF BLITZER: It's very important to remember, and this is an important line in this letter, that the determination basically saying they didn't have enough evidence to go ahead and charge the President of the United States with either obstruction or collusion or anything along those lines, “our determination was made without regard to and is not based on the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of the sitting president.”

BROWN: Can I clarify something? It does say that they cannot conclude he committed a crime and it does not exonerate him. But for the President's purposes and his team's purposes, he's been exonerated. I wanted to clarify that.

BLITZER: That's a very important point.

(…)

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Events Mueller Report Political Scandals Trump-Russia probe Cable Television CNN CNN Newsroom Video Pamela Brown Robert Mueller Wolf Blitzer Dana Bash Gloria Borger Donald Trump

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