Sep 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Mueller defends Russia investigation in rare public statement

Former Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller III testifies before the House Judiciary Committee
Photo: David Hume Kennerly/GettyImages

Former special counsel Robert Mueller in a statement on Tuesday defended his team's handling of the Russia investigation after Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor in his office, wrote in a new book that investigators should have done more to hold President Trump accountable.

Driving the news: In the tell-all book, “Where Law Ends,” released on Tuesday, Weissman addresses what he calls the special prosecutor office's failures in its investigation.

  • Weissmann argues that the investigation's report didn't go far enough in making a determination regarding Trump's potential obstruction of justice: "When there is insufficient proof of a crime, in volume one, we say it. But when there is sufficient proof, with obstruction, we don’t say it. Who is going to be fooled by that? It’s so obvious," Weissmann writes, per The Atlantic.
  • "Had we given it our all—had we used all available tools to uncover the truth, undeterred by the onslaught of the president’s unique powers to undermine our efforts?" Weissmann asks in the book's introduction.
  • "Part of the reason the president and his enablers were able to spin the report was that we had left the playing field open for them to do so."

What he's saying: Mueller pushed back, saying on Tuesday, "It is not surprising that members of the Special Counsel's Office did not always agree, but it is disappointing to hear criticism of our team based on incomplete information," according to a statement tweeted by NBC's Geoff Bennett.

  • "The office's mission was to follow the facts and to act with integrity. That is what we did, knowing that our work would be scrutinized from all sides."
  • "When important decisions had to be made, I made them. I did so as I have always done, without any interest in currying favor or fear of the consequences. I stand by those decisions and by the conclusions of our investigation."

The bottom line: “Director Mueller’s decision was to not make that conclusion, and by the way, I would have done it,” Weissmann said, of the special counsel's final report that summarized evidence of possible obstruction, but did not ultimately draw a conclusion. “I told him why I would have done that.”

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