Robert Mueller may have formally stepped down as special counsel, he may have backed up his report's findings. But however you felt about his work yesterday…you likely feel the same about it today. Until yesterday, Mueller hadn’t spoken publicly since being appointed special counsel. And what he offered thrilled his supporters as much as it infuriated his detractors.
Speaking at the Justice Department, Mueller summarized key findings from his report – and outlined sweeping efforts by Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. He also noted that there was insufficient evidence to "charge a broader conspiracy." But when it comes to the highly questioned obstruction charges, he was clear. Mueller said he did not make any recommendations about obstruction of justice because of a longstanding Justice Department policy that a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while in office.
Mueller called such a move unconstitutional. And if you’re not clear what he meant? He insisted that if there was clear evidence that the President didn’t commit obstruction, he’d have said so. “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller offered. “…charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.” He added that it’s the job of Congress — not the criminal justice system — to hold the president accountable for any wrongdoing.