WASHINGTON ― Robert Mueller on Wednesday made his first public statement about the special counsel’s investigation, reiterating that the probe did not exonerate President Donald Trump.
“I am speaking out today because our investigation is complete,” Mueller, a former FBI director, said during a news conference at the Justice Department. “We are formally closing the special counsel’s office and as well I’m resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life.”
“If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Mueller continued. “Under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. ... Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”
Mueller said he does not expect to speak publicly about the investigation again.
“We will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president,” he said. “I am making that decision myself. No one has told me whether I can, or should, testify. ... The report is my testimony.”
Mueller kept mum throughout the nearly two-year investigation and since the public release of a redacted version of his report in April. House Democrats want Mueller to testify publicly about his investigation.
Mueller’s investigation did not find clear evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russian operatives to sway the election. Mueller chose not to reach a traditional prosecutorial decision on obstruction of justice, but he outlined 10 instances of potential obstruction by the president during the probe.
Attorney General William Barr released and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chose not to charge Trump with obstruction, a decision influenced by the Justice Department’s position that the president can’t be charged with a crime. Barr and Mueller previously privately sparred over a misleading letter Barr sent to Congress that failed to fully summarize the Mueller report’s findings.