Special counsel Robert Mueller said Wednesday that he appreciates that Attorney General William Barr made his report “largely public” and does not question Barr’s “good faith” in such decision.
In his first public remarks since concluding his investigation, Mueller said charging a president with a crime was “not an option” his team could consider in the Russia investigation. Further, Mueller said that he followed longstanding Justice Department opinions that state a president can’t be indicted while in office.
“Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” he said. “It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge. So that was Justice Department policy. Those were the principles under which we operated.
“And from them, we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller continued. “That is the office’s final position and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president.”
“We appreciate that the attorney general made the report largely public, and we do not question the attorney general’s good faith in that decision,” he said.
President Trump reacted on social media to Mueller’s remarks, tweeting: “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’s report into Russia meddling in the 2016 election did not find that Russia and the Trump campaign coordinated to sway the presidential election. It did not reach a conclusion on whether the president had obstructed justice. Barr has said he was surprised that Mueller did not reach a conclusion, and decided with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that the evidence did not support an obstruction of justice allegation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.