Robert Mueller: If I Was Confident Trump Didn’t Commit Crimes, I Would Have Said So

Robert Mueller: If I Was Confident Trump Didn’t Commit Crimes, I Would Have Said So

For the first time on more than two years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly about the investigation into Russian election interference and any potential cooperation between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.

“I’m speaking out today because our investigation is complete,” Mueller said on Wednesday. “The Attorney General has made the report on our investigation largely public. 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.”

Mueller reiterated some of the conclusions of his report, stating in no uncertain terms that “Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system…The releases were designed and times to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.”

The former FBI director went on to expand on the findings of the special counsel’s report, explaining that he was unable to make a determination on whether Trump committed a crime on obstruction of justice due to a longstanding DOJ policy that the president cannot be indicted for a federal crime.

UPDATE: President Trump is already fundraising off of Mueller’s appearance. Within minutes of the end of the press conference, the president’s re-election campaign sent a fundraising email stating that Democrats “wasted TWO YEARS investigating me and my administration, only to fail. A TOTAL DISGRACE!”

After listing a couple of his accomplishments from the first two years of his term, the email added, “America doesn’t want to hear another word about the Mueller Report, unless it’s an apology from the Left and their Fake News friends.”

The president also reacted on Twitter, where he misstated Mueller’s conclusion:

Mueller did not state there was insufficient evidence to charge Trump with a crime. He made it clear that “under long-standing department policy a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office…Charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.” This does not mean there was “insufficient evidence,” as Trump would have it. It means he felt it was not up to him, but to Congress.

UPDATE: House Judiciary chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is also out with a statement reiterating Mueller’s statement that the findings of his report show that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in a coordinated effort and that President Trump tried to interfere in the election: “He also confirmed three central points: he did not exonerate the President of the United States of obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice is a serious crime that strikes at the core of our justice system, and the Constitution points to Congress to take action to hold the President accountable.”

The statement continues: “Although Department of Justice policy prevented the Special Counsel from bringing criminal charges against the President, the Special Counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel’s findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the Special Counsel’s report, and is lying in saying that the Special Counsel found no obstruction and no collusion. Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so. No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law.”

UPDATE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has released a statement thanking Mueller for his service. The statement also expressed “the deepest disappointment in the Department of Justice holding the President above the law,” presumably a backhanded slap at the Attorney General for his preemptive clearing of the president. Pelosi also reiterated that Congress “holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power” and promised that the legislature will “continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also weighed in via a series of tweets:

Watch the clip above, via MSNBC.

Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona is the founder/publisher of Contemptor and a contributor to The Daily Beast. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.