Donald Trump could yet be charged with obstruction of justice, says Robert Mueller

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President Donald Trump has not been exonerated for obstruction of justice, and can still face prosecution once he leaves office, says former US Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

At a hearing on the former FBI Director’s investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, Mr Mueller said it was one of the reasons why he did not charge the President for obstruction of justice.

Standing before politicians from both parties, he claimed Justice Department guidelines prevented him from considering charges against Mr Trump while he is in office, stating "one of the tools a prosecutor would use is not there".

Mr Mueller was grilled by both Democrats and Republicans. Credit: PA

However, Mr Mueller said while Mr Trump was guilty of obstructing justice, and that the Russian government did interfere in the 2016 elections, he was unable to find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy.

“Our investigation showed that the Russian government interfered in our elections in a sweeping and consistent fashion,” he said.

"The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

When pressed on whether Mr Trump was "involved in the underlying crime related to Russian election interference", Mr Mueller simply stated: "We found insufficient evidence of the president's culpability."

Mr Mueller said he was unable to find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy. Credit: AP Images

What does this mean?

Under US Federal law, "conspiracy" is a federal crime, however "collusion" is not. "Collusion" can involve both criminal and non-criminal activity.

While President Trump and his colleagues claim they have been cleared of "collusion", it has not been explicitly stated so by Mr Mueller.

However, the former Special Counsel appeared to muddy the definition in an exchange with Republican Representative Doug Collins, who asked: "In the colloquial context, collusion and conspiracy are essentially synonymous terms, correct?"

"No," Mr Mueller said.

"On page 180, Volume 1 of your report, it said collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth. Now, you said you chose your words carefully. Are you contradicting your report right now?" Collins asked.

"Not when I read it," Mr Mueller replied.

"So, you would change your answer to yes, then?" Mr Collins asked.

"No," Mr Mueller said.

"I'm reading your report, sir. Is it a yes or no answer. Page 180, Volume 1. This is from your report," Mr Collins added.

"Correct. And I leave it with the report," Mr Mueller replied.

Mr Mueller was grilled by both Democrats and Republicans. Credit: AP Images

Confused? You’re not the only one.

Mr Mueller has been a reluctant witness, delivering single-word answers to many questions, or claiming to be unable to hear questions set forth by lawmakers, frustrating Democrats and Republicans alike.

According to a tally by NBC News, he had deflected or declined to answer a question over 120 times.

Of those times, he told his questioners to refer back to the report nearly 40 times.

Mr Mueller was unable – or unwilling - to address the origins of his sources that lead to the investigation - something Republicans attacked him on.

Democrats say his actions have been "disappointing", particularly for those looking to impeach the US president.

Donald Trump attacks Robert Mueller again. Credit: PA

Mr Trump took this opportunity to once again accuse Mr Mueller of fabricating the report, calling the investigation “The Greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history, by far!”

“So Democrats and others can illegally fabricate a crime, try pinning it on a very innocent President, and when he fights back against this illegal and treasonous attack on our Country, they call It Obstruction?,” he tweeted.

“Wrong! Why didn’t Robert Mueller investigate the investigators?