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Special Counsel Mueller Announces Resignation in Justice Department Remarks

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Special counsel Robert Mueller makes a statement about the Russia investigation on Wednesday at the Justice Department. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated at 12:11 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller, speaking publicly for the first time since the beginning of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, says he is resigning.

"We are formally closing the special counsel's office," Mueller told reporters at the Justice Department on Wednesday morning.

The Mueller Report

The White House was notified Tuesday night that Mueller might make a statement, an official told reporters there on Wednesday morning.Mueller's investigation ran from May 2017 to March 2019.

In his 10-minute statement, Mueller highlighted a few portions of the roughly 400-page report, including the section on whether President Trump obstructed justice.

"If we had had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so," he said. "We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime."

Mueller emphasized that Justice Department regulations do not permit the indictment of a sitting president.

He also noted the overarching findings on Russia's actions.

"There were multiple systemic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American," he said.

Watch his full remarks:

One of Mueller's mandates from the Justice Department was to investigate whether President Trump's campaign coordinated with Russia in that country's interference efforts. Mueller found no such criminal conspiracy, despite detailing dozens of connections between people in Trump's orbit and those connected with Russia.The special counsel also investigated whether the president obstructed justice over the course of the investigation. The report explicitly said it did not "exonerate" Trump on the question of obstruction.

Trump responded shortly after Mueller finished, saying that his statement and report changes "nothing."

Mueller also said he did "not believe it is appropriate" for him to testify before Congress, as House Democrats have asked. Mueller said he would not be taking questions from reporters Wednesday, either. "The work speaks for itself," he said of his report.

House Democrats have also issued a subpoena for the full, unredacted text of his report and his supporting evidence — which the Justice Department won't provide.

Attorney General William Barr says the grand jury material in Mueller's report must remain secret under federal regulations and has recommended more broadly that the work is protected under executive privilege.

"We appreciate that the attorney general made the report largely public," Mueller said. "I certainly do not question the attorney general's good faith in that decision."

The statement also follows an account in a new book, "Siege: Trump Under Fire" by Michael Wolff, that described the special counsel's office as having prepared an indictment for Trump in connection with alleged obstruction of justice — the focus of Volume II of Mueller's report.

No such indictment was ever unsealed, and Mueller's report described the decision by him and his office not to attempt to bring charges against the president as in keeping with the Justice Department's policy prohibiting that.

A spokesman told NPR that the documents described in the new book don't exist.

Copyright 2019 NPR.


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