by Masood Farivar
Special counsel Robert Mueller says charging President Donald Trump with a crime was not an option his office could consider under Justice Department guidelines, as he made his first public statement about his 22-month-long investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Mueller concluded his investigation into Russian election meddling in late March, saying he found no evidence of collusion between the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump and Moscow. On the question of whether Trump obstructed the investigation, however, Mueller wrote in his 448-page report that while he could not make a charging recommendation, he could not exonerate the president either.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mueller said “If we had confidence that president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
Attorney General William Barr had told members of Congress that after reviewing Mueller’s report along with other senior Justice Department officials he determined that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge Trump with obstruction of Justice.
Barr said he made the determination irrespective of a long standing Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted. However, Mueller in his report cited 11 instances of possible obstruction of justice by Trump and wrote that he considered the Justice Department policy in deciding not to recommend charges.
House Democrats have accused Barr of misrepresenting Mueller’s conclusions and have been pressing for Mueller to testify before Congress. Both Trump and Barr have said they have no objection to Mueller testifying.
Mueller on Wednesday announced the formal closure of special counsel’s office and said he’s resigning from justice department to return to private life. He said he doesn’t believe he needs to speak further about the report or his investigation.