×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Robert Mueller Breaks Silence on Russia Probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller broke his silence on Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time since delivering his report in March on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In his remarks, Mueller stressed that he did not wish to testify before Congress, as Democrats are requesting, and sought to explain his controversial decision not to charge President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice.

“If we had confidence that the President did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said to a packed room of journalists at the Justice Department.

His comments should only further inflame a partisan split about President Trump’s behavior. Supporters of the president have alleged that the investigation is a “witch hunt,” while critics contend that his behavior was criminal. Mueller’s 22-month probe did not establish that the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russians during the election. Nor did it deliver a judgment about whether or not the president broke the law by obstructing justice. Mueller said his office determined it would be unconstitutional to charge a sitting president.

“A president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” Mueller said, adding, “Charging the president with a crime was …not an option we could consider.”

Mueller went on to say that he hoped his brief, 10-minute remarks would be the last he made about the investigation.

“No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter,” Mueller said. “There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”

The report was initially submitted to Attorney General William Barr on March 22. Barr then wrote a letter to Congress describing the report’s conclusions. He noted that Mueller had opted not to charge the president with obstruction and determined that the evidence developed during the investigation was insufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. On April 18, Barr released a redacted version of the 448-page report.

It later emerged that Mueller took issue with Barr’s summation, writing the attorney general a letter in March in which he said that ”[there] is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.”

For his part, Trump has seized upon the findings to claim they represent a “complete and total exoneration.” Following Mueller’s remarks, the president tweeted, “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.”

Mueller may not have found evidence that the president committed a crime, but the investigation he led did result in indictments for 34 individuals. It also led to the convictions of several people in Trump’s orbit, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his personal attorney Michael Cohen, and the former national security adviser Michael Flynn. It also concluded that the Russian government and Russian agents tried to influence the results of the presidential election in 2016.

“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” Mueller said. “And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

Popular on Variety

More Politics

  • President Donald Trump waves as he

    Trump Holds Fundraiser in Hollywood's Backyard

    President Trump paid a visit to Los Angeles on Tuesday, as part of a West Coast fundraising swing expected to raise $15 million. Trump is set to appear at a dinner at developer Geoffrey Palmer’s house in Beverly Hills, where tickets range from $1,000 to $100,000 for VIPs. Though set in Hollywood’s backyard, the event [...]

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Burning Image Debate Ad

    ABC Runs Debate Ad Showing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Burning Image

    ABC aired an ad during Thursday’s Democratic debate that depicted a burning image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and likened her politics to those that caused the Cambodian genocide. New Faces GOP funded the ad, which features Elizabeth Heng, a Republican who lost a bid for a Fresno-area congressional seat last year. Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, [...]

  • Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris.

    ABC News' Democratic Debate Lacked Energy and Purpose

    At long last, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren were on the same stage. And the result was a long and fairly dull evening. After two Democratic Party debate stages in which the field of candidates had been bifurcated — splitting, in both cases, the perceived frontrunners from the establishment and insurgent [...]

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden responds

    Protesters Interrupt Joe Biden During Democratic Debate

    Protesters interrupted presidential candidate Joe Biden during Thursday’s democratic debate. The chants came nearly two and a half hours in as moderator George Stephanopoulos asked the former vice president about any professional setbacks he’s faced and how he recovered from them. “We’re going to clear the protesters,” Stephanopoulos said as the chants began. “We’re sorry.” [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren,

    Dems Debate in Houston: Moderates Push Back on Medicare for All

    The third Democratic debate on Thursday was billed as the first showdown between the top contenders: Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Biden did challenge the liberal senators on health care early in the debate, which was broadcast on ABC. He asked repeatedly how they would pay for their multi-trillion [...]

  • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth WarrenSecond 2020

    How to Watch the Third Democratic Primary Debate

    The leading Democratic candidates will once again go head to head tonight in Houston, Tex. for the party’s third debate ahead of the primaries. The anticipated debate, which will include the 10 Democratic candidates currently leading in the polls, will kick off at 8 p.m. ET and will broadcast live on ABC and Univision. ABC [...]

  • Gen Z Climate Activism

    How Generation Z Is Embracing Bold Action in the Face of Climate Crisis

    Of all the dire forecasts she’s heard about the climate crisis, there is one that Arielle Martinez Cohen can’t get out of her mind. The report, from an Australian think tank, projected that if nothing is done, civilization could collapse by 2050. “I will be 49 in that year,” says the 17-year-old activist. “It makes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content