Robert Mueller, the former special counsel who led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Saturday broke his silence about attacks on the legitimacy of his work by President Trump and other leading Republicans. He also responded to Trump’s decision late Friday to commute the prison sentence of former Trump adviser Roger Stone, who was due to begin serving his three year, four-month sentence on July 14.
“I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office,” Mueller wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday. “The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”
Mueller defended the work of his two-year investigation, which he noted resulted in concrete action: “Based on our work, eight individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial, and more than two dozen Russian individuals and entities, including senior Russian intelligence officers, were charged with federal crimes,” he said.
One of the individuals was Stone, who worked on the Trump campaign in 2015 and in an informal capacity in 2016. According to Mueller, “He communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.”
But Stone ran afoul of the law when he lied repeatedly to Congress about his activities with WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. “The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness,” Mueller said. “Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.”
Mueller concluded by defending the work of the Justice Department and the investigators on the case. “We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law,” he said. “The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.”