Ex-federal prosecutor says Mueller press conference 'muddied the waters'

Former federal prosecutor Joseph Moreno criticized special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE over his decision to hold a press conference before cameras Wednesday on the conclusions of his two-year investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“This really muddied the waters in a way that was perhaps not necessary,” Moreno told Hill.TV hosts Jamal Simmons and Buck Sexton on Thursday.

In his first public remarks on the case since concluding his investigation, Mueller outlined his findings and explained that his team could not have brought charges against Trump given Department of Justice guidance forbidding them against a sitting president.

"Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider," Mueller said.

Moreno said that while Mueller's comments about the Justice Department’s longstanding policy wasn't a surprise to the intelligence community, the special counsel could have been more upfront with the public from the very beginning of his probe.

“You’re not supposed to editorialize about someone if you’re not bringing charges but then kind of dirty them up and then say, ‘well, perhaps we could have but I could have exonerated him but I didn’t want to do that either,’ ” he said.

Mueller’s surprise remarks also drew criticism from the president himself.

In a series of tweets, Trump expressed his frustration with Mueller’s remarks, even accusing the special counsel of being “a true never-Trumper."

He also downplayed the possibility of impeachment, saying it has "nothing to do with me.”

While Democratic congressional leaders have openly opposed impeachment, Mueller’s remarks have fueled calls for impeachment among some Democrats.  

“It wasn't lack of evidence. It was DOJ policy,” Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsSunday shows - Second whistleblower grabs spotlight House Democrat: Trump 'dangerously abused his oath of office' Democrats are 'giddy over' impeachment inquiry, Republican says MORE (D-Fla.), who has previously supported calls impeachment, tweeted following the conference. “[Mueller] said that this ‘deserves the attention of every American.’ He's right. Congress must act.”

—Tess Bonn