U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced the formal closure of his office Wednesday and said he is resigning from the Justice Department to return to private life.
The announcement follows the publication of most of his report summarizing his office's findings following a two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and allegations President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with that effort.
Mueller stressed in comments before reporters at the Justice Department that his 448-page report detailing the conclusions of his two-year investigation are not an exoneration of the president, something Trump and his allies repeatedly and falsely claim.
In his report, Mueller pointed to 10 incidents that raised questions of obstruction of justice by the president, including Trump's attempt to remove the special counsel from his post and attempts to curtail his investigation.
Mueller continued to cite Justice Department policy to not indict a sitting president for his office's decision not to recommend prosecution, saying during his brief remarks that "charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider".
"The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy," he said, further pointing to the department's legal opinion that wrongdoing by a sitting president must be adjudicated through impeachment proceedings rather than the criminal justice system.
Lawmakers have been seeking to have Mueller appear before Congress to testify on his report, but Mueller said any testimony he would provide would not go beyond the report's contents.
"The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress," he said.
Trump responded to Mueller's announcement on Twitter, falsely claiming there was "insufficient evidence" to indict him.
"And therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you," he said.
Despite the president's insistence on an end to the matter, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said it is far from over.
"The Special Counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel’s findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the Special Counsel’s report, and is lying in saying that the Special Counsel found no obstruction and no collusion," he said in a lengthy statement.
"Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so. No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law," he added.
By Michael Hernandez in Washington, D.C.