Special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday – in his first public, televised statement regarding the investigation he led into Russia election interference said that he was legally unable to charge the president with a crime, emphasizing it’s against Justice Department policy, and noted that his report explained that decision.
He also said if he’d determined President Donald Trump didn’t commit a crime he “would have said so.”
“As set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”
Mueller added, “The special counsel’s office is part of the department of justice and by regulation it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.”
Mueller’s public statement did not appear to sway Trump, who has claimed the investigation exonerated him.
“Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you,” Trump tweeted minutes after Mueller’s statement ended.
This may be Mueller’s only public comments on the investigation. The special counsel highlighted what he wanted the public to take away from 448-page report he issued on the investigation into Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice.
Although his remarks closely matched statements contained in his nearly 400-page report, Mr. Mueller’s portrayal of Mr. Trump’s actions was not as benign as Attorney General William P. Barr’s characterizations. While Mr. Barr has seemed to question why the special counsel investigated the president’s behavior, Mr. Mueller stressed the gravity of that inquiry.
House Democrats have been eager to have Mueller testify publicly, but his comments made clear he does not plan to do so.
“I hope and expect this will be the only time I will speak to you in this manner,” he said.