‘Start Here’: Mueller finally speaks as calls to impeach Trump get louder

It’s Thursday, May 30, 2019. Let’s start here.

1. Mueller opens up about speaking out

Two years after his appointment, special counsel Robert Mueller broke his silence on the Russia investigation on Wednesday to reiterate the report’s findings before closing up shop and returning to private life.

Mueller explained that his team did not determine whether President Donald Trump committed possible obstruction of justice because of a longstanding Department of Justice policy that states a sitting president cannot be indicted, but, he noted, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Because Mueller was operating under the Justice Department and couldn’t pursue possible charges against Trump, the conclusion of the investigation is an opening for lawmakers to take the lead, ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran says on “Start Here.”

“Mueller believed his responsibility,” Moran says, “was to get the evidence down of possible obstruction of justice and then invite, as he did yesterday, the Congress to do its job.”

2. ‘Nothing is off the table’

There are growing calls among Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates to impeach the president as party leadership stresses the importance of allowing congressional investigations to continue.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that “nothing is off the table,” including impeachment, “but we do want to make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case” that even Senate Republicans could be convinced to fall in line.

As Pelosi tries to quell talk of a quickening march to impeachment, congressional Democrats returning home this week could face questions from angry constituents, ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks tells us.

“It’s also possible that in bluer parts of the country, some Democratic strongholds, you get voters who are clamoring for their members of Congress … saying that impeachment is inevitable, you have a constitutional obligation to do this,” Parks says.

3. Israel’s redo

Israel is set to hold a new round of elections this year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a ruling coalition.

Netanyahu, who barely won the last election amid looming corruption charges, will be back on the campaign trail this summer before the country votes again on Sept. 17, raising questions about the Trump administration’s long-awaited Middle East peace proposal scheduled to be rolled out next month in Bahrain.

“They were not expecting to not have the Israeli government to deal with,” ABC News’ Jordana Miller reports from Jerusalem. “They were depending especially on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government to have some kind of presence, and some kind of backing, and now that whole peace plan may have to be put on hold until later in the fall.”

4. Pressure climbs in Nepal

The Nepalese government is considering new rules to restrict Mount Everest to climbers who have more experience after 11 people have died in one of the deadliest seasons on record.

Viral images of overcrowding at the summit of Everest have prompted safety concerns, and Nepalese officials are facing mounting pressure to act.

Nepal’s director general of tourism told ABC News he doesn’t think the photos show the whole picture, but added that officials are considering asking tourists to show proof they’ve reached a minimum altitude requirement in previous climbs.

“The people who live and work in Nepal, they need Everest to basically pay for their lives, and that is probably why there’s been such reticence here,” ABC News Foreign Correspondent James Longman says from Kathmandu.

“Start Here,” ABC News’ flagship podcast, offers a straightforward look at the day’s top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or the ABC News app. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content and show updates.

Elsewhere:

‘Freedom gas’: The Energy Department wants to rebrand natural gas aka “molecules of U.S. freedom.”

$20 instead of $10: Gun owners in Illinois may be asked to pay slightly more for identification cards and submit to fingerprinting.

‘While Mr. Jackson was securing his seatbelt, the animal began to growl’: A man on a Delta flight is suing the airline, alleging he was attacked by another passenger’s emotional support dog.

From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:

This is the 1st NBA Finals in 9 years without LeBron: A lot has changed.

Doff your cap:

Even Reese Witherspoon, an Oscar-winning actress and a heavyweight Hollywood producer, said she had to calm her nerves acting alongside Meryl Streep on “Big Little Lies.”

“The first day of the second season I had to work with Meryl Streep, which is so exciting but also completely terrifying,” Witherspoon said Wednesday on “Good Morning America.” “I think I barely got out words.”

“I had to literally go into another room,” Witherspoon recalled, “and say, ‘Calm down. She’s just a person. She’s just a human being.'”

Streep joins Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley in the show’s second season that premieres June 9 on HBO.

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