Robert Mueller after his public statement. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In his first on-camera public statement since he was appointed two years ago, special counsel Robert Mueller told the country: "If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so."

Why it matters: Mueller addressed the question of why his investigation did not charge President Trump with a crime for obstructing justice by essentially reiterating what was in his report: "[U]nder long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited."

  • "The Special Counsel's Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider."

Between the lines: Mueller stated that the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel opinion says that "the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing." That process is Congress' power to impeach.

Other highlights:

  • Mueller announced that now that the investigation has ended, the Special Counsel's Office will close and he will resign from the Justice Department to return to private life.
  • He also addressed the question of whether he will testify before Congress. "No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further. ... The report is my testimony. ... I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation."
  • Mueller also made clear the seriousness of an obstruction offense: "When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government's effort to strike at the truth and hold wrong doers accountable."

The bottom line, from Mueller, as he ended the press conference: "There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American."

  • Our thought bubble: Mueller started and ended his statement with a reminder of Russia's systematic and fundamental assault on American democracy — a conclusion that the president has largely ignored or disputed.

Go deeper: Read the full transcript of Mueller's remarks

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Facebook boycott organizers share details on their Zuckerberg meeting

Facebook is in the midst of the largest ad boycott in its history, with nearly 1,000 brands having stopped paid advertising in July because they feel Facebook hasn't done enough to remove hate speech from its namesake app and Instagram.

Axios Re:Cap spoke with the boycott's four main organizers, who met on Tuesday with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top Facebook executives, to learn why they organized the boycott, what they took from the meeting, and what comes next.

Boycott organizers slam Facebook following tense virtual meeting

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Civil rights leaders blasted Facebook's top executives shortly after speaking with them on Tuesday, saying that the tech giant's leaders "failed to meet the moment" and were "more interested in having a dialogue than producing outcomes."

Why it matters: The likely fallout from the meeting is that the growing boycott of Facebook's advertising platform, which has reached nearly 1000 companies in less than a month, will extend longer than previously anticipated, deepening Facebook's public relations nightmare.

Steve Scalise PAC invites donors to fundraiser at Disney World

Photo: Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s PAC is inviting lobbyists to attend a four-day “Summer Meeting” at Disney World's Polynesian Village in Florida, all but daring donors to swallow their concern about coronavirus and contribute $10,000 to his leadership PAC.

Why it matters: Scalise appears to be the first House lawmakers to host an in-person destination fundraiser since the severity of pandemic became clear. The invite for the “Summer Meeting” for the Scalise Leadership Fund, obtained by Axios, makes no mention of COVID-19.