WASHINGTON – Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced on Wednesday morning that the investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 presidential election has concluded and that he will resign to return to private life.
Mueller was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over two years ago.
“I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I am speaking today because our investigation is complete. The Attorney General has made the report on our investigation largely public. And we are formally closing the Special Counsel’s Office. As well, I am resigning from the Department of Justice and returning to private life,” Mueller said.
He outlined the indictments of Russian intelligence officers and the allegations made in those indictments including the hacking of the Clinton campaign networks and subsequent leak to Wikileaks, as well as, social media efforts by a private Russian agency to interfere in the election.
“The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. That is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office,” Mueller said.
“That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable,” he added.
“As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” he said. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.”
He explained that the Department’s opinion that it would be unconstitutional to indict a sitting President informed how they handled their investigation.
“The opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could now be charged,” Mueller said.
He also noted that the DOJ opinion states that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing which would be the impeachment process.
He also said that it would not have been fair to accuse the president of a crime when there would be no resolution to such a charge in court.
Mueller noted that Attorney General William Barr released more of the report he requested.
“At one point in I requested that certain portions of the report be released. The Attorney General preferred to make the entire report public all at once. We appreciate that the Attorney General made the report largely public. I do not question the Attorney General’s good faith in that decision,” he said.
Mueller said this is the one and only time he expects to discuss the investigation and report.
“I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak about this matter. I am making that decision myself—no one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter,” he said.
“There has been 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,” Mueller added. “The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in appearance before Congress.”
He closed noting that Americans should pay attention to the allegations made in the report.
“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American,” Mueller concluded.