Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III reiterated Wednesday that his office could not clear President Trump of obstructing justice, asserting in his first public remarks about his investigation that federal prosecutors cannot accuse the commander in chief of a crime while suggesting Congress still may do so.
Standing alone on stage in a room used for news conferences on the Justice Department’s seventh floor, Mueller said that if his office “had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” and noted that the Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing.”
But if Mueller was trying to suggest Democrats could initiate impeachment proceedings, he also seemed to dash any hopes they might have had of doing so with him as their star witness.
The special counsel — who noted he was closing up shop and formally resigning from the Justice Department — said he hoped the news conference would be his last public comments, and if he were compelled to testify before Congress, he would not speak beyond what he wrote in his 448-page report.
The comments — the first Mueller has made since his investigation closed last month — mostly reemphasized what the special counsel already had said in his report, and instantly fueled partisan infighting in Washington.