Mueller: Charging Trump was not an option

‘If we had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so’.

May 30, 2019 05:18
2 minute read.
Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Special Counsel Robert Mueller said on Wednesday that if he had confidence that President Donald Trump clearly did not commit a crime, he would have mentioned so in his report.

In his first public appearance since the end of the investigation, Mueller gave a 10-minute statement at the Justice Department explaining his decision not to charge Trump with any alleged crime.

“We did not make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime,” Mueller said. “The introduction to volume two of our report explains that decision. It explains that under the long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office: that is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited. The special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”

The constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing, said Mueller. “And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness,” 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 the 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. That is the office’s final position, and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president.”

Trump reacted on Twitter to Mueller’s statement, saying: “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 made it clear that if called to testify before Congress, he will not provide additional information.

“There has been a discussion about an appearance before Congress,” he said. “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.”

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