Saturday, 11 Jul 2020

Charging Trump was never an option for Russia probe: US Special Counsel Mueller

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in his first public comments on his investigation, said on Wednesday (May 29) that charging President Donald Trump was never an option for his team of prosecutors, citing Justice Department guidelines that prohibit charging a sitting president.

“Charging the president with a crime was … not an option we could consider,” Mr Mueller told reporters as he announced his resignation. “We concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime.”

Earlier the Justice Department said Mr Mueller would make his statement at 11am (11pm Singapore time) on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

It is the first time Mr Mueller is speaking publicly about his investigation since his report was published in April. Mr Mueller did not take questions after his statement.

A redacted version of the Mueller report was published in April, concluding there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow. But Mr Mueller declined to make a judgment on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, though the report outlined 10 instances in which Mr Trump tried to impede the investigation.

Since then, Democratic lawmakers have tried to get the full report and underlying evidence, but the Justice Department has not cooperated. The House Judiciary Committee is also negotiating for Mr Mueller to testify at a hearing.

Mr Trump has said the investigation exonerated him after regularly using Twitter to denounce it as a witch hunt.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump said Mr Mueller should not testify before Congress but that the final decision was up to Attorney-General William Barr. Democrats have denounced Mr Barr, saying he misrepresented the special counsel’s findings.

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