Special counsel Robert Mueller, making public remarks on Wednesday, explained bluntly that his team did not have the “option” to charge President Donald Trump with a crime.
That’s because of longstanding Justice Department policy.
He said that if the team had “confidence” the president did not commit a crime, the special counsel’s report would have made that point.
Speaking from the Justice Department on Wednesday morning, he announced the closing of his office.
Mueller also detailed the conclusions of the Russia probe, emphasizing that there “was not sufficient evidence to charge a conspiracy” over whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian interests during the 2016 election.
But Mueller did not mince words on his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Mueller declared. “We did not determine whether the president did commit a crime.”
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Mueller explained longstanding Justice Department policy — it states that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.
My typing is sometimes wrong but the principle is timeless in the American system. Mueller (note correct spelling) had a two year opportunity to find President Trump (note correct spelling) guilty. He failed in a massive report. Case closed.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) May 29, 2019
As to obstruction, the Mueller team failed to reach a conclusion and turned that task over to the Attorney General.
The AG, in concert with then-Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, decided that as a matter of fact and law, an obstruction case against President Trump was not warranted.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 29, 2019
— New York Post (@nypost) May 29, 2019
“Charging the president with a crime was not an option we could consider,” Mueller explained, adding that “it would be unfair to accuse someone of a crime when there could be no court resolution of the charge.”
“The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing,” Mueller said Wednesday, as Fox News also noted, echoing his report; it states that Congress “may apply obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”
“We concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller added on Wednesday.
“That is the office’s final position.”
“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.”
Mueller also said he’d prefer not to testify before Congress about the Russia probe.
“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,” Mueller said. “I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation.”
As one LifeZette reader shared about this news story on Facebook this morning: “I promise you, if they had found anything, ANYTHING, with an [ounce] of obstruction or anything else against President Trump, nothing would have stopped them from announcing it on every news station available and dragging him to court. The reason nothing was done because THERE IS NOTHING THERE!”
Watch this segment of Mueller’s remarks — and share your own thoughts.
This story has been updated.