5 Things Robert Mueller Said in His Public Statement
Special Counsel Robert Mueller outlined his investigation’s findings in a public statement during a press conference Wednesday.
While his statement left viewers with many lingering questions, he did address several matters that have been sources of contention since Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to Congress detailing the principal conclusions of Mueller’s report in late March.
1. “If we had confidence the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
Mueller noted in his prepared remarks that they “did not make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.” At the same time, however, if Mueller and his team were confident that President Donald Trump did not commit a crime, they equally would have said as much in the report.
2. A president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office
Not only could Mueller’s team not conclusively determine that Trump had not committed a crime, but even if they had, they would not have been able to charge him. Mueller explained that “even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited.” As such, it was never an option for Mueller’s team to consider charging Trump with a crime.
But Mueller insinuated that there is another recourse available. He explained that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” which appears to be a reference to Congress’ ability to initiate impeachment proceedings.
3. Mueller will not provide any additional information
Mueller was emphatic that the report should speak for itself. He insisted that no one had directed him to or not to testify before Congress, but that even if he were to testify he would “not provide information beyond that which has already been made public.”
“We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself,” Mueller said. “The report is my testimony.”
4. Russia systematically interfered with the 2016 election
Mueller explained in plain English that “Russian intelligence officers launched a concerted attack on our political system.” This included hacking into networks used by the Clinton campaign, and the theft and public release of private information, all of which was “designed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.”
Mueller returned to this point at the end of his remarks, noting that the allegation that “there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election…deserves the attention of every American.”
5. Mueller is returning to private life
In his remarks, Mueller explained that he chose to speak after remaining silent over the course of the investigation because it is now complete. With the report completed and much of it made public by Barr, Mueller noted that they are closing the special counsel’s office and that he was “resigning from the permit of justice to return to private life.”
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—Robert Mueller resigns, says charging Trump with crime was ‘not an option’
—Was Mueller’s statement an impeachment referral?
—What would impeachment look like in Trump’s America?
—Rep. Rashida Tlaib is unapologetic about her expletive-filled call for Trump’s impeachment
—Trump tweets that Democrats want to impeach him for being ‘too successful’
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