Washington: United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday announced his resignation from the Justice Department after delivering his first public statement since the end of a 22-month long investigation into the alleged Russian collusion in 2016 presidential polls.
In his statement on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mueller said he is also closing the special counsel’s office, Al Jazeera reported.
The announcement comes amid demands for Mueller to testify on Capitol Hill about his findings and tension with Attorney General William Barr over the handling of his report.
Earlier in the day, Mueller said that the report is his testimony. He added that he hopes and expects that Wednesday is the “the only time” that he speaks about the report, but “any testimony from [his] office would not go beyond the report.”
A redacted version of the Mueller report, published in April, concluded that there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow. But Mueller declined to make a judgment on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, though the report outlined 10 instances in which Trump tried to impede the investigation.
Barr and former deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein subsequently determined Trump had not broken the law.
Mueller further stated on Wednesday that charging the President was never an option for him and his team of prosecutors, citing the Justice Department guidelines that prohibit charging a sitting president.
“Charging the president with a crime was … not an option we could consider,” Mueller told reporters.
“We concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime,” he said. “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did or did not,” he was quoted as saying.
Shortly after Mueller’s statement, Trump tweeted that “nothing changes”.
“The case is closed! Thank you,” Trump said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also said in a statement that “the report was clear – there was no collusion, no conspiracy – and the Department of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction.”
She added, “After two years, the special counsel is moving on with his life, and everyone else should do the same.”
Meanwhile, the statement has ramped up calls for impeachment proceedings against the President, a move which was halted by the Democrats so far.