In an exchange between him and House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Nadler asked directly whether the report totally exonerated the president.
“No,” Mueller said. “It is not what the report said.”
The statement came during Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice committed by the president.
This is not the first time that Mueller has said the investigation didn’t exonerate the president. At a press conference in May, he was clear that “if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”
In his report, Mueller wrote that he could not determine that the president did not commit a crime, but cited an Office of Legal Counsel opinion that a sitting president could not be indicted while in office — an opinion which was reiterated during the testimony.
“Is it correct that if you had concluded that the president committed the crime of obstruction, you could not publicly state that in your report or here today?” Nadler asked.
“The statement would be that you would not indict,” Mueller said. “Under the OLC opinion, a sitting president cannot be indicted. It would be unconstitutional.”
Some time after the exchange, the GOP doubled down on theirs and the president’s claim that the report had found “no collusion.”
In his opening remarks, Mueller stated that he did not address collusion in his report, because it “is not a legal term.”