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The Big Lines From Mueller's Hours of Testimony, Part II

Former special counsel appears before the House Intelligence committee
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2019 12:24 PM CDT
Updated Jul 24, 2019 2:26 PM CDT

(Newser) – After a morning spent with the House Judiciary Committee, Robert Mueller moved on to the House Intelligence Committee in the afternoon.

  • "I understand that this committee has a unique jurisdiction" and is interested in learning more about counter-intelligence findings, Mueller said. The BBC reports Mueller emphasized this his office did not come to "counter-intelligence conclusions" but instead handed any counter-intelligence information to the FBI.
  • Mueller ended his opening statement by correcting something said to Rep. Lieu of the Judiciary Committee this morning. Lieu asked for confirmation that "you didn't charge the president because of the OLC opinion," the DOJ guideline that bars the indictment of a sitting president. "That is not the right way to say it," Mueller clarified. "We did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime."

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  • As the hearing started, Trump weighed in on Twitter. "I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning’s hearing. Now, after 3 hours, Robert Mueller has to subject himself to #ShiftySchiff - an Embarrassment to our Country!"
  • One of Trump's much-repeated phrases came up early on. Rep. Adam Schiff asked, "When Donald Trump called your investigation a witch hunt, that is also false, is it not?" Said Mueller, "I like to think so, yes," later reiterating, "It is not a witch hunt."
  • Democratic Rep. Jim Himes asked whether Russian interference impacted the election's outcome. Mueller wouldn't weigh in, saying, "Those issues have been investigated by other entities." He acknowledged that Russia's social media campaign was geared to benefit Trump, but he then clarified, "There were instances where Hillary Clinton was subject to much the same behavior."
  • Mueller emphasized the Russian threat in response to questioning from Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier, who asked if he would agree it was not a "hoax" that the Russians were trying to influence the US election. "Absolutely, it was not a hoax," he said. "I think we have underplayed to a certain extent that aspect of our investigation that has and would have long term damage to the United States that we need to move quickly to address."
  • What CNN calls possibly the first "new ground" Mueller broke occurred during questioning from Rep. Mike Quigley, who read aloud tweets Trump wrote during the election in praise of WikiLeaks. Mueller called that praise "problematic." He said, "Problematic is an understatement, in terms of what it displays, in terms of giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity." The Washington Post called it Mueller's "most pointed criticism of Trump’s behavior since beginning congressional testimony."
  • Mueller was later asked about Russian interference by GOP Rep. Will Hurd, and had this to say: "It wasn’t a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign."
  • Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney asked a big question: Why didn't Mueller just subpoena the president? Mueller outlined the more than a year of effort spent trying to secure the interview. Ultimately, "we decided that did not want to exercise the subpoena power because of the necessity of expediting the end of the investigation," noting that the expectation was that Trump would fight the subpoena, causing a long delay.
(Read more Robert Mueller stories.)

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