Robert Mueller: I did not clear Trump over obstruction crime

  • Mueller says if he concluded Trump did not commit obstruction crime he would have said so in his report
  • Explains that it would be ‘unfair’ and ‘unconstitutional’ to bring indictment against a sitting president given guidelines. 
  • Argues against giving public testimony to Congress, saying he has nothing to add beyond report as he formally ends inquiry


​Robert Mueller has said he did not clear Donald Trump of committing a crime over obstruction of justice in his first public comments since his report was published. 

Speaking to mark the conclusion of his inquiry, Mr Mueller, the special counsel who looked into Russian election meddling, said he did not reach a determination on that matter. 

"If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so," said Mr Mueller.

The remark challenges Mr Trump’s repeated public claim that he was exonerated by the Mueller report and that there was “no obstruction”. 

Mr Trump responded shortly after, tweeting that "the case is closed".

Instead Mr Mueller said that he was bound by Justice Department guidelines stating that a criminal indictment cannot be made against a sitting US president. 

Mr Mueller said doing so would be both “unconstitutional” and “unfair”, since a US president could not attend a trial where the allegation can be considered and justice be done.

During his unexpected 10-minute statement, Mr Mueller also argued against giving public testimony on his findings to Congress, as Democrats are asking him to do. 

Mr Mueller said he would not go beyond what he had said in his 448-page report, published last month, saying: “The report is my testimony”.

The remarks were effectively an attempt to counter Democrats in the House of Representatives who are demanding Mr Mueller appear for a hearing in public. 

The statement to camera was announced on Wednesday morning out of the blue.

The White House, some leading congressmen and the US attorney general were all reportedly notified beforehand. 

It was the first time Mr Mueller had spoken in public about the investigation since his appointed in May 2017. He did not take questions from journalists. 

Mr Mueller’s inquiry had looked into Russian interference in the 2016 election, whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin and whether Mr Trump obstructed the investigation that followed. 

Mr Mueller begun by announcing “formally” that the special counsel’s office will close now his report has been delivered to Congress and that he will be returning to private life. 

For much of the statement he went through the report’s key findings – that Russia had interfered in the election, but that he found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. 

On possible obstruction of justice – an issue that made up the second volume of his report – Mr Mueller spelled out at length the remit he was working under.  He said that as an employee of the Justice Department he was bound by guidelines that state a sitting president cannot be indicted as he weighed whether Mr Trump had committed obstruction. 

Mr Mueller said that even if an indictment had been filed secretly and remained hidden until a day when the president was no longer in office it would still be “unconstitutional”. 

“Charging a president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” Mr Mueller said. 

However he said that an investigation to establish facts was permitted, saying that gathering evidence “while memories are fresh and documents are available” was permitted. 

In perhaps his most pointed comment, Mr Mueller made clear that if he had concluded Mr Trump did not commit a crime of obstruction then he would have said so in his report. He did not. 

That conclusion, which underscores a similar remark in the report itself, clashes with the argument from Mr Trump and his allies that Mr Mueller’s findings amounted to “complete exoneration”. 

After Mr Mueller submitted his report William Barr, the US attorney general, announced that he had concluded there was no crime – something Mr Trump points to when challenged on his “no obstruction” claim. 

During the statement, Mr Mueller said hoped and expected that this would be the only time he would speak in public on the report – a clear rebuttal of Democrat demands he give testimony. 

He also thanked the hard work of his staff and praised their professionalism, in marked contrast to Mr Trump who has called the inquiry a “witch hunt” and said staff members were Democrats. 

Mr Mueller finished by urging Americans – and perhaps government figures – to focus on the seriousness of Russian election interference that he had uncovered. 

“There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” he said. “That allegation deserves the attention of every American.” 

Polished to perfection, Mueller did not disappoint

Nick Allenin Washington writes:

For two years Robert Mueller had said nothing.

Hundreds of media profiles had been written about the Vietnam war hero turned FBI Director. They were filled with phrases like "steely" and "tough as nails". But none of them were based on talking to the man himself.

So, aside from what he was actually going to say, there was the intriguing question of whether Mr Mueller would live up to his billing.

As he stepped up to the lectern, in front of TV cameras broadcasting nationwide, it quickly became clear that, yes, he is as advertised.

Grizzled, stern, with a face that looked like it should be on Mount Rushmore. Even his hair seemed like it was chiseled from granite, and his delivery was polished to perfection.

Unlike other public figures, when Mr Mueller said "no questions" and glared at the assembled media, they largely did as told while he walked off the stage, without looking back. "Classic Mueller," was the general conclusion.

Click Here: Rugby league Jerseys

Democrats coming out in favour of impeachment


White House statement: Americans should move on with their lives

From Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

“The Special Counsel has completed the investigation, closed his office, and has closed the case.

Mr Mueller explicitly said that he has nothing to add beyond the report, and therefore, does not plan to testify before Congress.

The report was clear – there was no collusion, no conspiracy – and the Department of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary

Special Counsel Mueller also stated that Attorney General Barr acted in good faith in his handling of the report.

After two years, the Special Counsel is moving on with his life, and everyone else should do the same.”

Mueller explains why he "punted" to Congress on whether the president should be charged

Nick Allen in Washington writes:

Mr Mueller set out in detail the legal reasons why he could not charge the president with a crime, and why he left the decision to Congress. He cited longstanding Justice Department guidelines that a sitting president cannot be charged while in office.

Those are guidelines. It does not say that in the US Constitution. Mr Mueller explained that his Special Counsel’s Office was part of the Justice Department, so he was bound by the guidelines. He said: "Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider."

Robert Mueller said that his report did not exonerate Donald Trump – contrary to what the White House says 

There could also be because there is no redress for an accused president in the usual criminal court system, so it was therefore "unfair" to charge him.

Mr Mueller said he therefore concluded that he could not even "reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime." So, in the end, his report made no recommendation either way. Neither guilt, nor exoneration.

Many observers have called that a "punt". In his statement today Mr Mueller punted again – passing the hot potato to Congress.

He said: "The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing."

The "other process" is impeachment. Mr Mueller was clear. He wants no more to do with the investigation. What happens next is up to Congress.

James Clapper: "This was classic Mueller"

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said that the statement on Wednesday was "classic Mueller".

He said it was an "understated" but strong rebuttal of all the attacks on his investigation.

James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence

Mr Clapper, one of Donald Trump’s most strident critics, told CNN that he thought the strongest point was Mr Mueller’s parting thought – that Russia had acted to sway the election in favour of one candidate, Mr Trump.

Mueller does not want to testify before Congress 

Nick Allen in Washington writes:

It was clear from this statement that Mr Mueller really, really does not want to testify to Congress. He referred to there having been "discussion" of him doing so. It’s been a lot more than that. Democrats are demanding it. True to form, the man who said nothing publicly for two years during his investigation, tried to shut it down.

That was a big part of why he decided to make this statement.

He said: "I hope and expect this will be the only time I speak to you in this manner." 

Robert Mueller

He argued that any testimony he gave would not go beyond what was in his report. "The report is my testimony," he added. Mr Mueller is notoriously camera shy but that is not his motivation for avoiding Congress.

He knows that, should he appear, it could open up further cans of worms, and the investigation will never end.

Mr Mueller stated that this should be the endpoint.

"I am making that decision myself," he said.

However, it may not be his decision to make.

Donald Trump responds: "The case is closed"


Mueller's final thought

Mueller wraps up with a warning for all Americans.

"There were multiple, systematic attempts to interfere in our election"

Robert Mueller


Mueller refuses to criticise Barr

Barr’s handling of the report has angered Democrats.

Mueller said he would not comment on it.

William Barr, the attorney general


"The report is my testimony"

I hope and expect this will be the only time I should speak to you in this manner.

Any testimony from this office would not go beyond the report. It contains our findings, analysis, and the decisions we made.

The report is my testimony.

I would not provide any information beyond what is already made public.

Mueller says his work was driven by fairness

It would be unfair to potentially accuse someone of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.

We concluded we would not reach a determination one way or another whether the president had committed a crime.

We will not comment further.

Mueller on obstruction

Mueller says that when an obstruction of justice is carried out, "it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find truth, and give justice to those accountable."

Mueller: "We are not commenting on the guilt or innocence of any defendant"

Robert Mueller


Mueller discusses interference

Mueller says the Russians "stole private information" and used it to "damage a presidential candidate".

Mueller resigns from the department of justice

He announces the closing of the office.

Mueller to speak for eight minutes

Mueller’s first public statement on the Russia investigation is expected to last about eight minutes. That’s according to a Justice Department official.

The statement comes as Attorney General William Barr is traveling in Alaska. A second person familiar with Barr’s trip says Barr was told ahead of time that Mueller would be making a statement.

Robert Mueller has not spoken in public in two years

Mueller is not expected to take questions.

Mueller’s report revealed that President Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the Republican president. Trump has called the investigation a "witch hunt."