Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who stepped down from his position Wednesday, had a stark warning for Americans: pay attention to what Russia did to interfere in U.S. elections.
Most of the political wrangling and fallout over Mueller’s report has focused on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice — the report, and Mueller on Wednesday, specifically said he did not exonerate the president on that score — and whether Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. Mueller himself pointed to an aspect of his office’s findings that hasn’t been challenged by either political party.
“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” Mueller said Wednesday at the Justice Department, his first public remarks since taking over the nearly two-year investigation. “That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
Yet, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been divided for most of the past year on how to address the weaknesses in the U.S. election system that were exploited by Russia in 2016 and again in 2018, even as other countries attempt to copy Moscow’s playbook.
Trump has repeatedly tried to cast doubt on Mueller’s findings, saying that the interference could have come from Russia, China or other countries. He has also said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials that Moscow orchestrated an attack on U.S. election systems, contradicting the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies and Mueller’s findings.