Everyone, the moment we've been waiting for has finally arrived. Since the special counsel's redacted report was publicly released on April 18, there's been whispers about whether he would be asked to testify. Well, it doesn't look like he'll be taking the stand anytime soon, because Robert Mueller's statement about the Russia investigation tells us all we apparently need to know about his conclusions.
On Wednesday, May 29, Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally addressed the drama surrounding his investigation into whether the Trump campaign actively colluded with Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election. During his first press conference on May 29, Mueller announced that the investigation was "complete" and that he would officially be closing down the special counsel's office and retiring from the Department of Justice (DOJ) in order to "resume with private life." However, the special counsel did make sure to note some important facts that came out of his investigation, in an apparent effort to clear up misunderstandings and speak authoritatively on his report.
In his remarks, Mueller stated that charging President Donald Trump was an option he and his office could not consider, seeing as the DOJ's policy states a sitting president cannot be indicted while in office, in order to prevent governmental instability. Later, Mueller also confirmed that Russian operatives did launch a "sophisticated" attack on Democratic computers that influenced the 2016 presidential election. However, Mueller did state that that the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia. He also clarified that he did not intend to testify before Congress, as some lawmakers have called for, and if he did he wouldn't say anything beyond what's in the report.
More than anything, though, he told America to go home and do the reading. "It's important the office's written work speaks for itself," Mueller told reporters during the press conference.
Mueller did not accept any questions from reporters after the press conference.
A redacted version of the report may have been submitted publicly on April 18, but Attorney General William Barr released a summary of Mueller's findings on Sunday, March 24 detailing some of the special counsel's key points. In Barr's summary, the attorney general stated that Mueller found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and that the DOJ concluded that the president had not obstructed justice. Despite Barr's summary, that would hardly be the last we heard about this investigation.
Following Barr's summary of Mueller's report, the attorney general received criticism for his handling of the findings, particularly after some suggested he had mischaracterized Mueller's conclusions. On April 30, Barr appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was grilled about the investigation, particularly his controversial summary. That same day, a March 27 letter written by Mueller was publicly released by members of the House Judiciary Committee, where the special counsel said he didn't believe Barr explained his findings clearly. Mueller wrote,
The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusion.
In Mueller's letter, the special counsel also said that Barr's summary caused "confusion" among the public. He wrote,
There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.
Elite Daily previously reached out to both the office of the attorney general and special counsel for further comment about the letter and the apparent disagreement on characterization, but did not hear back.
But it looks like when it comes to the different interpretations, we've got all we're going to get out of Mueller. In his May 29 statement, Mueller stated that he does not intend to testify, and he hopes that his public statement will be the only time he speaks regarding the report and its conclusions.
In the meantime, at least this statement from Mueller is offering some closure to this Russian investigation saga. If we can call it that.