Special Counsel Robert Mueller made his first public statements on the results of his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election Wednesday morning.
Speaking from The Justice Department, Mueller began his statement by announcing he was formally closing the special counsel's office and that he was resigning from the Justice Department to return to private life.
Mueller said he decided to speak out today because the "investigation is complete" and the "attorney general has made the report on our investigation largely public" adding that the report "speaks for itself."
The special counsel refused to clear President Trump of obstruction of justice, saying that if their investigation had confidence the president did not commit a crime, the report would have said so.
"If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," Mueller said. "We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime."
The special counsel spoke at length about his office's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment,Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign," Mueller said of Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. "They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization Wikileaks.The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate."
When it came to potential obstruction by President Donald Trump, Mueller explained why he didn't charge the president with a crime saying that if his office "had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.
"We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime," Mueller said. It has been a longstanding policy by the Department of Justice that a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is still in office. Mueller called such a move, "unconstitutional."
"Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited," Mueller said. The special counsel's office is part of the Department of Justice, he said, and is therefore bound by its policies.
"Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider," he said.
He closed out his remarks by reminding Americans about why the special counsel's office was created in the first place.
"I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American," Mueller said. He did not take any questions following his press conference.
Until this morning, he had not made a public statement since being appointed special counsel in May 2017.
The special counsel's report detailing the two-year investigation was released one month ago, with large portions of the 448-page report redacted in an effort to protect on-going investigations and intelligence sources and methods. It's those redactions that have turned into a political dispute between Congress and the White House. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the full unredacted report, but Attorney General William Barr refused to hand it over.
The report issued by Mueller found that Russia and the Trump campaign did not coordinate to sway the presidential election. It did not reach a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice.
This is a breaking news update. More details will be added as they become available.