Special counsel Robert Mueller made his first, and possibly last, comments Wednesday to reporters regarding the Russia investigation that has received widespread attention for years in the political sphere.
Speaking from the Justice Department, Mueller ended his silence after avoiding any public appearances since being tapped to lead the Russia investigation in May 2017.
WATCH: Complete statement from Special Counsel Robert Mueller pic.twitter.com/y3QejiqmcT
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“Two years ago, the acting attorney general asked me to serve as special counsel, and he created the Special Counsel’s Office,” Mueller said. “The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”
“This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.”
With his work done, Mueller said he was returning to private life.
“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 said.
Mueller also emphatically said he was speaking in public for the first time since the investigation began because “our investigation is complete.”
“As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system. The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign,” Mueller said. “They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization Wikileaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.”
“And at the same time as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election,” he added.
“These indictments contain allegations, and we are not commenting on the guilt or the innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”
But while evidence seemed to support the assertion that Russian interference did occur, Mueller noted that charging President Donald Trump with any crime was never really an “option.”
“We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime,” Mueller said, noting that it would be unconstitutional to charge a sitting president with a federal crime.
“[The introduction to the volume two of our report] explains that under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” Mueller noted. “That is unconstitutional.”
“Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited. 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 also cited fairness as a reason for not charging the president with anything.
“And beyond department policy we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.”
Mueller did note that this appears to be the end of all things related to the Russia investigation, at least on his end.
“Now I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner. I am making that decision myself. No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter,” Mueller said.
The special counsel also noted that the report is his testimony.
“We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself,” Mueller said.
“And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”
It does not appear that Mueller will acquiesce to calls for him to testify before Congress.
Mueller did not take any questions following his news conference.
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