“Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, declined on Wednesday to clear President Trump of obstruction of justice in his first public characterization of his two-year investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mr. Mueller said, reading from prepared notes behind a lectern at the Justice Department at a hastily called public appearance.
He also noted that while Justice Department policy prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime, the Constitution provides for another remedy to formally accuse a president of wrongdoing — a clear reference to the ability of Congress to conduct impeachment proceedings.
Although it lasted less than 10 minutes, the news conference presented an extraordinary spectacle of a top federal law enforcement official publicly stating that the president’s conduct had warranted criminal investigation, even though it was impossible to indict him for any crimes. Mr. Mueller delivered his statement on his last day as special counsel, saying it was his final word on his investigation and he was returning to private life.
Democratic presidential candidates immediately seized on Mr. Mueller’s refusal to exonerate Mr. Trump to call for the president’s impeachment, intensifying pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has insisted impeachment proceedings would only play into Mr. Trump’s hands.
The president’s aides and allies tried to cast the event as not even newsworthy, just a summary of a 448-page report released weeks ago. Mr. Mueller “has closed his office and it’s time for everybody to move on,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.” (Read more: The New York Times, 5/29/2019)
Read the full transcript of Mr. Mueller’s statement.