Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally addressed the public, following weeks of debate between Republicans and Democrats over the findings of an investigation that has inflamed political tensions in the US. But he directed attention away from himself and back to the report his office produced.
This is Mueller’s first public statement aboutsince he was nearly two years ago.
“It is important that the office’s written work speaks for itself,” Mueller said.
At the opening, Mueller said the Justice Department is closing the special counsel’s office and that he will be resigning from the agency. Members of Congress have asked for Mueller to testify to lawmakers on his findings, but in his statement he explained he wouldn’t expand on what the report has already detailed.
“The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress,” Mueller said.
While Democrats have looked at the report as reason for further investigation into President Trump, Trump himself has proclaimed that the Mueller report found “no collusion and no obstruction.” In April, the Justice Department, which outlined cyberattacks conducted by Russia during the US presidential election in 2016.
After Mueller’s statement, Trump tweeted that nothing had changed from the report.
The nearly 450-page report revealed new information, like Russian hackers. It also detailed how Russian hackers accessed the , as well as how nation-state attackers coordinated a .
The report stated that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election “in sweeping and systematic fashion.” Mueller reinforced that on Wednesday.
“There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American,” he said.
At a press conference in New York, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, called for Congress to focus on preventing Russian election interference in next year’s White House race.
“This report is a wake-up call. We must get right on the horse and do everything we can to stop Russia from interfering in the 2020 election,” Schumer said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, made a comment about Trump’s team and echoed Mueller’s points about Russian election interference.
“The report shows that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and any member or operative of the Russian government,” Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said in a statement. “However, there was a systematic effort by Russia to disrupt our election. We should be on guard for future election attacks by Russia and other bad actors.”
Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, called for Congress to pass legislation that would improve election security and transparency from social media companies.
“What is clear is that Russia deployed a sophisticated cyber campaign in order to interfere in our democratic process and tip the scales in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump,” Warner said in a statement. “As the special counsel made clear today, it’s up to Congress to uphold the rule of law, and ensure this never happens again.”
Attorney General William Barr noted that the investigation did not find any Americans knowingly worked with Russia on the.
While the report explained that Russian efforts focused to help the Trump campaign, the White House argues that the campaign did not coordinate with the nation-state actors.
In the Mueller report’s conclusion, the special counsel writes that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Mueller explained further in his statement on Wednesday why the office chose not to press charges against Trump. He said that a sitting president could not be charged with a federal crime while in office, and the investigation was bound by that.
“It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge,” Mueller said.
He said that if the investigation found that Trump didn’t commit a crime, the special counsel’s office would have said so.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, said in a statement that Congress will continue to investigate on Mueller’s findings, and called for the Senate to pass the For the People Act, a bill to strengthen election security.
“The Special Counsel’s report revealed that the President’s campaign welcomed Russian interference in the election, and laid out eleven instances of the President’s obstruction of the investigation,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power.”
Mueller did not take questions after making his statement.
Originally published May 29, 8:09 a.m. PT.
Updates, 8:18 a.m.: Includes more details from Mueller’s statement; 8:41 a.m.: Adds statements from Sen. Schumer and Trump; 9:27 a.m.: Includes remarks from Sen. Graham. 9:45 a.m.: Adds statement from Sen. Warner. 10:23 a.m.: Adds remarks from House speaker Nancy Pelosi.