Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller made his highly-anticipated appearance before two House committees over some seven hours yesterday (July 24th). As he'd said he would, Mueller confined his answers to what was in the report on his Russia investigation, and as many had expected, he provided little drama, as he frequently answered in one-word replies and many times said he wouldn't or couldn't answer certain questions. Mueller was also at times halting or stilted in his answers, but he was firm in rejecting President Trump's claims that he'd exonerated the president, dismissing Trump's frequent accusation that the Russia probe was a witch hunt, and warning that Russia is still trying to interfere in our democracy and will try to meddle in the 2020 election.
Mueller's morning testimony was before the House Judiciary Committee and dealt with the second part of the report, which is on potential obstruction of justice by Trump in trying to block the Russia probe. The report presents evidence for several potential instances of obstruction, but Mueller repeated yesterday what he's said before, that they didn't consider whether those instances did amount to obstruction because of Justice Department guidelines that a sitting president can't be indicted. The afternoon session before the House Intelligence Committee was on the first part of the report, on Russia's efforts to interfere with the 2016 election. Mueller was more animated during this testimony, as he delivered his warnings about Russia's continued intention to interfere with our election. He condemned Trump’s repeated praise during the 2016 campaign of WikiLeaks, which released Democratic emails stolen by Russia, and said he worried that there might be a new normal of American political campaigns accepting foreign help.
While Democratic lawmakers tried to emphasize the most damaging findings of Mueller's report, hoping that Mueller speaking about them would bring them to life for the public in a way the written report didn't, Republicans tried to portray Mueller and the prosecutors on his team as politically motivated. They repeatedly asked about how the Russia probe began, which they consider to be improper, but Mueller replied that wasn't in the purview of his investigation. After Mueller's testimony was over, Trump claimed victory, telling reporters, "This was a devastating day for the Democrats. The Democrats had nothing and now they have less than nothing."
Mueller, didn't exonerate:[(Rep. Jerrold Nadler)"The president has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him. But that is not what your report said, is it?"(Mueller)"Correct. That is not what the report said."*EDIT*(Nadler)"So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice? Is that correct?"(Mueller)"That is correct."(Nadler)"And what about exoneration. Did you actually totally exonerate the president?"(Mueller)" No."] SOUNDCUE(:27 OC . . . the president? No.)
Mueller, not a witch hunt:[(Rep. Adam Schiff)"And when Donald Trump called your investigation a witch hunt, that was also false, was it not?"(Mueller)"I'd like to think so, yes."(Schiff)"Well, your investigation is not a witch hunt --"(Mueller) "It is not a witch hunt."] SOUNDCUE(:10 OC . . . a witch hunt.)
Mueller, could charge president after he leaves office:[(Rep. Ken Buck)"Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?"(Mueller)"Yes."(Buck)"You believe that he committed -- you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?" (Mueller) "Yes."]SOUNDCUE(:11 OC . . . left office? Yes.]
Mueller, Russians still trying to interfere:[(Rep. Will Hurd)"In your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election, or did you find evidence that suggests they'll try to do this again?"(Mueller)"It wasn't a single attempt. They're doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign."] SOUNDCUE(:17 OC . . . the next campaign)
Trump:["We had a very good day today. The Republican Party, our country. There was no defense of what Robert Mueller was trying to defend.**EDIT**There was no defense to this ridiculous hoax, this witch hunt."] SOUNDCUE(:16 OC . . . this witch hunt.)