Robert Mueller to Speak About Investigation Into Russian Election Interference

Robert Mueller to Speak About Investigation Into Russian Election Interference
Special counsel Robert Mueller walks with his wife Ann Mueller in Washington on March 24, 2019. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Special counsel Robert Mueller is set to speak about the investigation his team conducted into Russian election interference, the Department of Justice said.

Mueller is set to make public remarks at 11 a.m. EST on May 29.

It’s the first time Mueller will have spoken in public since submitting his report about the 2016 election to Attorney General William Barr.

A senior White House official said that the White House was notified on Tuesday night that Mueller would be speaking on Wednesday, so the news didn’t catch the administration off guard.

Mueller’s team found no collusion between Trump or his campaign and Russia despite years of allegations by top Democrats and many media outlets.

“Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” Mueller’s final report stated.

Mueller outlined a case for obstruction but did not recommend prosecution or say obstruction didn’t occur. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who as acting attorney general appointed Mueller in 2017, and Attorney General William Barr determined that obstruction did not occur.

“After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and I concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Barr said at a press conference on April 18.

Attorney General William Barr testifies
Attorney General William Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election” on Capitol Hill in Washington, on May 1, 2019. (Aaron Bernstein/Reuters)

He also said that Mueller could not explain why his team didn’t decide whether or not to recommend charges against President Trump over potential obstruction.

“We were frankly surprised that they were not going to reach a decision on obstruction,” Barr said in his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, reported the Wall Street Journal.

“We did not understand exactly why the special counsel was not reaching a decision and when we pressed him on it, he said his team was still formulating the explanation,” Barr said of the March 5 meeting.

Mueller’s team stated in the report (pdf): “We determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.”

The team cited an Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion that the president could not be indicted or prosecuted while in office, but Barr said on Wednesday that Mueller had told him the office’s opinion was not a factor in his decision not to bring charges.

While the team could not establish obstruction, it said if it “had confidence” that the president did not, it would have said so.

donald trump speech
President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (not pictured) at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo on May 27, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Barr said on Wednesday that once the team made the decision to punt on obstruction, it became his responsibility to make the choice based on the evidence gathered by Mueller in addition to other evidence from outside the investigation.

“We don’t conduct criminal investigations just to collect information and put it out to the public,” Barr said.

“I think that if he felt that he shouldn’t go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive decision, then he shouldn’t have investigated.”

Barr said at the press conference that Mueller’s team “did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation.”

Barr said that he and Rosenstein kept in mind that Trump was facing “an unprecedented situation.”

“As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was, in fact, no collusion.”

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