Robert Mueller Indicates Trump Committed Crimes During 2016 Election
Special counsel Robert Mueller, in his first public statement about his Russia probe, did not exonerate President Trump, instead explaining why his office never considered indicting him for obstruction of justice.
"As set forth in the report, after the investigation, if we had confidence that the president did not clearly commit a crime, we would have said so," he told reporters at the Justice Department Wednesday.
Mueller also indicated he would decline to testify before Congress, as many Democrats had hoped.
"Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself," Mueller said.
"The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress."
The Justice Department policy prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president meant that "charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider," Mueller said, adding that the Constitution requires a "process other than the criminal justice system" to address wrongdoing by a president.
"It would be unfair to potentially accuse someone of a crime" knowing the issue could not be resolved in the courts, Mueller said.
And to have charged the president under Mueller's interpretation of the Justice Department's policy would have been "unconstitutional," he said. "Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view. That too, is prohibited."
While the decision not to indict the president had been made from the outset, Mueller said the department's opinion "explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president".
The reason for this, Mueller said, is "because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available," in case "there were co-conspirators who could be charged now."
Republican Representative Justin Amash, a vocal Trump critic and the only Republican to call for his impeachment, took Mueller's statement as a sign that Congress should step in.
In response to Mueller's statement, Trump wrote on Twitter that "nothing changes from the Mueller Report."