- Doug Collins: Why do you change your testimony on collusion and conspiracy?
The full transcript was extracted from NBC News (except for the transcript for Representatives Roby and Cline, who NBC ignored) and then compared to the audio provided by CSPAN.
This exchange between Representative Collins and Mr. Mueller showed how even the definitions of words within the report could be bent by the true author of the report to benefit Democrats and confuse the purported author of the report.
|Collins:||In your press conference you said any testimony from your office would not go beyond our report. “We chose these words carefully. The word speaks for itself. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.” Do you stand by that statement?|
|Collins:||Since closing the special counsel’s office in May of 2019, have you conducted any additional interviews or obtained any new information in your role as special counsel?|
|Mueller:||In the — in the — in the wake of the report?|
|Collins:||Since the — since the closing of the office in May of 2019.|
|Mueller:||And the question was, have we conducted…|
|Collins:||Have you conducted any new interviews, any new witnesses, anything?|
|Collins:||And you can confirm you’re no longer special counsel, correct?|
|Mueller:||I am no longer special counsel.|
|Collins:||At any time in the investigation, was your investigation curtailed or stopped or hindered?|
|Collins:||Were you or your team provided any questions by members of Congress (inaudible) the majority ahead of your hearing today?|
|Collins:||Your report states that your investigative team included 19 lawyers and approximately 40 FBI agents and analysts and accountants. Are those numbers accurate?|
|Mueller:||Could you repeat that, please?|
|Collins:||Forty FBI agents, 19 lawyers, intelligence analysts and forensic accountants; are those numbers accurate? This was in your report.|
|Collins:||Is it also true that you issued over 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records and 50 pin registers?|
|Mueller:||That went a little fast for me.|
|Collins:||OK. In your report — I’ll make this very simple — you did a lot of work, correct?|
|Mueller:||Yes, that I agree to.|
|Collins:||A lot of subpoenas, a lot of pin registers…|
|Mueller:||A lot of subpoenas.|
|Collins:||OK, we’ll walk this really slow if we need to.|
|Mueller:||A lot of search warrants.|
|Collins:||All right, a lot of search warrants, a lot of things, so you are very thorough.|
|Collins:||In your opinion, very thorough, you listed this out in your report, correct?|
|Collins:||Thank you. Is it true, the evidence gathered during your investigation — given the questions that you’ve just answered, is it true the evidence gathered during your investigation did not establish that the president was involved in the underlying crime related to Russian election interference as stated in Volume 1, page 7?|
|Mueller:||We found insufficient evidence of the president’s culpability.|
|Collins:||So that would be a yes.|
|Collins:||That would be a yes.|
|Collins:||Thank you. Isn’t it true the evidence did not establish that the president or those close to him were involved in the charged (ph) Russian computer hacking or active measure conspiracies or that the president otherwise had unlawful relationships with any Russian official, Volume 2, page 76? Correct?|
|Mueller:||I will leave the answer to our report.|
|Collins:||So that is a yes. Is that any (ph) true your investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russian government in election interference activity, Volume 1, page 2; Volume 1, page 173?|
|Mueller:||Thank you. Yes.|
|Collins:||Yes. Thank you. Although your reports states, “collusion is not some (ph) specific offense,” — and you said that this morning — “or a term of art in federal criminal laws, conspiracy is.” In the colloquial context, are collusion and conspiracy essentially synonymous terms?|
|Mueller:||You’re going to have to repeat that for me.|
|Collins:||Collusion is not a specific offense or a term of art in the federal criminal law. Conspiracy is.|
|Collins:||In the colloquial context, known public context, collusion — collusion and conspiracy are essentially synonymous terms, correct?|
|Collins:||If no, on page 180 of Volume 1 of your report, you wrote, “As defined in legal dictionaries, collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in the general federal conspiracy statute, 18 USC 371.”|
|Collins:||You said at your May 29th press conference and here today you choose your words carefully. Are you sitting here today testifying something different than what your report states?|
|Mueller:||Well, what I’m asking is if you can give me the citation, I can look at the citation and evaluate whether it is actually…|
|Collins:||OK. Let — let me just — let me clarify. You stated that you would stay within the report. I just stated your report back to you, and you said that collusion — collusion and conspiracy were not synonymous terms. That was your answer, was no.|
|Collins:||In that, page 180 of Volume 1 of your report, it says, “As defined in legal dictionaries, collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in general conspiracy statute 18 USC 371.”|
|Collins:||Now, you said you chose your words carefully. Are you contradicting your report right now?|
|Mueller:||Not when I read it.|
|Collins:||So you would change your answer to yes, then?|
|Mueller:||No, no — the — if you look at the language…|
|Collins:||I’m reading your report, sir. These are yes-or-no answers.|
|Mueller:||(inaudible) Page 180?|
|Collins:||Page 180, Volume 1.|
|Collins:||This is from your report.|
|Mueller:||Correct, and I — I — I — I leave it with the report.|
|Collins:||So the report says yes, they are synonymous.|
|Collins:||Hopefully, for finally, out of your own report, we can put to bed the collusion and conspiracy. One last question as we’re going through: Did you ever look into other countries investigated in the Russians’ interference into our election? Were other countries investigated…|
|Collins:||… or found knowledge that they had interference in our election?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to discuss other matters.|
|Collins:||All right. And I yield back.|
- John Ratcliffe: When did the US standard change from “innocent until proven guilty?”
One place where a defendant had to be proven innocent that we could consider was Bernie Sander’s honeymoon spot: good old Soviet Russia. However, since this investigation was supposed to be laser-focused on only things that would either indict or embarrass the Trump administration, then we won’t mention that.
|Ratcliffe:||Good morning, Director. If you’ll let me quickly summarize your opening statement this morning, you said in Volume 1 on the issue of conspiracy, the special counsel determined that the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. And then in Volume 2, for reasons that you explained, the special counsel did not make a determination on whether there was an obstruction of justice crime committed by the president. Is that fair?|
|Ratcliffe:||All right. Now, in explaining the special counsel did not make what you called a traditional prosecution or declination decision, the report, on the bottom of page 2, Volume 2, reads as follows: “The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Now, I read that correctly?|
|Ratcliffe:||All right. Now, your report — and today, you said that at all times, the special counsel team operated under, was guided by and followed Justice Department policies and principles. So which DOJ policy or principle sets forth a legal standard that an investigated person is not exonerated if their innocence from criminal conduct is not conclusively determined?|
|Mueller:||Can you repeat the last part of that question?|
|Ratcliffe:||Yeah. Which DOJ policy or principle set forth a legal standard that an investigated person is not exonerated if their innocence from criminal conduct is not conclusively determined? Where does that language come from, Director? Where is the DOJ policy that says that? Can — let me make it easier. Is…|
|Mueller:||May — can I — I’m sorry, go ahead.|
|Ratcliffe:||… can you give me an example other than Donald Trump, where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated…|
|Mueller:||I — I…|
|Ratcliffe:||… because their innocence was not conclusively determined?|
|Mueller:||I cannot, but this is a unique situation.|
|Ratcliffe:||OK. Well, I — you can’t — time is short. I’ve got five minutes. Let’s just leave it at, you can’t find it because — I’ll tell you why: It doesn’t exist. The special counsel’s job — nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence, or that the special counsel report should determine whether or not to exonerate him. It not in any of the documents. It’s not in your appointment order. It’s not in the special counsel regulations. It’s not in the OLC opinions. It’s not in the Justice Manual. And it’s not in the Principles of Federal Prosecution. Nowhere do those words appear together because, respectfully — respectfully, Director, it was not the special counsel’s job to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or to exonerate him. Because the bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence. It exists for everyone. Everyone is entitled to it, including sitting presidents. And because there is a presumption of innocence, prosecutors never, ever need to conclusively determine it. Now, Director, the special counsel applied this inverted burden of proof that I can’t find and you said doesn’t exist anywhere in the department policies. And you used it to write a report. And the very first line of your report, the very first line of your report says, as you read this morning, it “authorizes the special counsel to provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution of declination decisions reached by the special counsel.” That’s the very first word of your report, right?|
|Ratcliffe:||Here’s the problem, Director: The special counsel didn’t do that. On Volume 1, you did. On Volume 2, with respect to potential obstruction of justice, the special counsel made neither a prosecution decision or a declination decision. You made no decision. You told us this morning, and in your report, that you made no determination. So respectfully, Director, you didn’t follow the special counsel regulations. It clearly says, “Write a confidential report about decisions reached.” Nowhere in here does it say, “Write a report about decisions that weren’t reached.” You wrote 180 pages, 180 pages about decisions that weren’t reached, about potential crimes that weren’t charged or decided. And respectfully — respectfully, by doing that, you managed to violate every principle in the most sacred of traditions about prosecutors not offering extra-prosecutorial analysis about potential crimes that aren’t charged. So Americans need to know this, as they listen to the Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle, as they do dramatic readings from this report: that Volume 2 of this report was not authorized under the law to be written. It was written to a legal standard that does not exist at the Justice Department. And it was written in violation of every DOJ principle about extra-prosecutorial commentary. I agree with the chairman this morning, when he said, “Donald Trump is not above the law.” He’s not. But he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where Volume 2 of this report puts him.|
- James Sensenbrenner: Why did you drag the investigation out if you started with a determination not to prosecute a sitting president?
Representative Sensenbrenner gets Mueller to recognize the fact that the investigation was dragged out beyond the point where he determined he would not prosecute the President.
|Sensenbrenner:||Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me begin by reading the special counsel regulations by which you were appointed. It reads, quote “At the conclusion of the special counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declamations decisions reached by the special counsel,” is that correct?|
|Sensenbrenner:||OK. Now when a regulation uses the words “shall provide,” does it mean that the individual is in fact obligated to provide what’s being demanded by the regulation or statute, meaning you don’t have any wiggle room, right?|
|Mueller:||I’d have to look more closely at the statute.|
|Sensenbrenner:||Well, I just read it to you. OK, now Volume 2, page 1, your report boldly states, “We determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment,” is that correct?|
|Mueller:||I’m trying to find that citation, Congressman.|
|Nadler:||Director, could you speak more directly into the microphone, please?|
|Sensenbrenner:||Well, it’s Volume 2, page…|
|Mueller:||Mr. Chairman, I’m sorry.|
|Sensenbrenner:||Yeah, it’s Volume 2, page 1. It says, “We determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.”|
|Sensenbrenner:||That’s right at the beginning. Now, since you decided under the OLC opinion that you couldn’t prosecute a sitting president, meaning President Trump, why do we have all of this investigation of President Trump that the other side is talking about when you know that you weren’t going to prosecute him?|
|Mueller:||Well, you don’t know where the investigation’s going to lie, and OLC opinion itself says that you can continue the investigation even though you are not going to indict the president.|
|Sensenbrenner:||OK, well if you’re not going to indict the president then you just continue fishing. And that’s — you know, that’s my — my observation. You know, sure — sure you — sure you — my time is limited — sure you can indict other people but you can’t indict the sitting president, right?|
|Sensenbrenner:||OK. Now, there are 182 pages in raw evidentiary material, including hundreds of references to 302, which are interviews by the FBI for individuals who have never been cross-examined, and which did not comply with the special counsel’s governing regulation to explain the prosecution or declamation decisions reached, correct?|
|Mueller:||Where are you reading from on that?|
|Sensenbrenner:||I’m reading from my question.(LAUGHTER)|
|Mueller:||That — could you repeat it?|
|Sensenbrenner:||OK. If — you have 182 pages of raw evidentiary material with hundreds of references to 302s who are — never been cross-examined, which didn’t comply with the governing regulation to explain the prosecution or declaration — declination decisions reached.|
|Mueller:||This is one of those areas which I decline to discuss…|
|Sensenbrenner:||OK, then let… … and would direct you to the report itself for what…|
|Sensenbrenner:||… 182 pages of it. You know, let me switch gears. Mr. Chabot and I were on this committee during the Clinton impeachment. Now, while I recognize that the independent counsel statute under which Kenneth Starr operated is different from the special counsel statute, he, in a number of occasions in his report, stated that the — “President Clinton’s actions may have risen to impeachable conduct, recognizing that it is up to the House of Representatives to determine what conduct is impeachable.” You never used the term “raising to impeachable conduct” for any of the 10 instances that the gentlewoman from Texas (inaudible) — did. Is it true that there’s nothing in Volume 2 of the report that says that the president may have engaged in impeachable conduct?|
|Mueller:||Well, we have (inaudible) kept in the — the center of our investigation the — our mandate. And our mandate does not go to other ways of addressing conduct, our mandate goes to what — developing the report and putting the report in to the attorney general.|
|Sensenbrenner:||With due respect, you know, it — it seems to me, you know, that there are a couple of statements that you made, you know, that said that, “This is not for me to decide,” and the implication is this is — this was for this committee to decide. Now, you didn’t use the word “impeachable conduct” like Starr did. There was no statute to prevent you from using the words “impeachable conduct.” And I go back to what Mr. Ratcliffe said, and that is is that even the president is innocent until proven guilty. I — my time is up.|
- Steve Chabot: If you focused on the Trump Tower meeting on 9 June 2016, why didn’t you focus on the Russian lawyer/Fusion GPS meetings on 8 June and 10 June?
Representative Chabot gets stonewalled by Mr. Mueller on questions as to why the Democrat-led team could not devote the same interest on the meeting on 8 and 10 June 2016 as they did on the 9 June meeting.
|Chabot:||Thank you. Director Mueller, my Democratic colleagues were very disappointed in your report. They were expecting you to say something along the lines of he was (ph) — why President Trump deserves to be impeached, much as Ken Starr did relative to President Clinton back about 20 years ago. Well, you didn’t, so their strategy had to change. Now they allege that there’s plenty of evidence in your report to impeach the president, but the American people just didn’t read it. And this hearing today is their last best hope to build up some sort of groundswell across America to impeach President Trump. That’s what this is really all about today. Now a few questions: On page 103 of Volume 2 of your report, when discussing the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, you referenced, quote, “the firm that produced Steele reporting,” unquote. The name of that firm was Fusion GPS. Is that correct?|
|Mueller:||And you’re on page 103?|
|Chabot:||103 (ph), that’s correct, Volume 2. When you talk about the — the firm that produced the Steele reporting, the name of the firm that produced that was Fusion GPS. Is that correct?|
|Mueller:||Yeah, I — I’m not familiar with — with that. I (inaudible)|
|Chabot:||(inaudible) It’s not — it’s not a trick question, right? It was Fusion GPS. Now, Fusion GPS produced the opposition research document wide — widely known as the Steele dossier, and the owner of Fusion GPA (sic) was someone named Glenn Simpson. Are — are you familiar with…|
|Mueller:||This is outside my purview.|
|Chabot:||OK. Glenn Simpson was never mentioned in the 448-page Mueller report, was he?|
|Mueller:||Well, as I — as I say, it’s outside my purview and it’s being handled in the department by others.|
|Chabot:||OK. Well, he — he was not. In the 448 pages the — the owner of Fusion GPS that did the Steele dossier that started all this, he — he’s not mentioned in there. Let me move on. At the same time Fusion GPS was working to collect opposition research on Donald Trump from foreign sources on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, it also was representing a Russian-based company, Probison (ph), which had been sanctioned by the U.S. government. Are you aware of that?|
|Mueller:||It’s outside my purview.|
|Chabot:||OK, thank you. One of the key players in the — I’ll go to something different. One of the key players in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting was Natalia Veselnitskaya, who you described in your report as a Russian attorney who advocated for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act. Veselnitskaya had been working with none other than Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS since at least early 2014. Are — are you aware of that?|
|Mueller:||Outside my purview.|
|Chabot:||Thank you. But you didn’t mention that or her connections to Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS in — in your report at all. Let — let me move on. Now, NBC News has reported the following: quote, “Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya says she first received the supposedly-incriminating information she brought to Trump Tower describing alleged tax evasion and donation to Democrats from none other than Glenn Simpson, the Fusion GPS owner.” You didn’t include that in the report, and I assume you (inaudible).|
|Mueller:||This is a matter that’s being handled by others at the Department of Justice.|
|Chabot:||OK, thank you. Now, your report spends 14 pages discussing the June 9th, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. It would be fair to say, would it not, that you spent significant resources investigating that meeting?|
|Mueller:||Well, I’d refer you to the — the report.|
|Chabot:||OK. And President Trump wasn’t at the meeting…|
|Mueller:||No, he was not.|
|Chabot:||… that (ph) you’re aware of (ph)? Thank you.
Now, in stark contrast to the actions of the Trump campaign, we know that the Clinton campaign did pay Fusion GPS to gather dirt on the Trump campaign, from persons associated with foreign governments. But your report doesn’t mention a thing about Fusion GPS in it, and you didn’t investigate Fusion GPS’ connections to Russia (ph).
So let me just ask you this. Can you see that from neglecting to mention Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS’ involvement with the Clinton campaign, to focusing on a brief meeting at the Trump Tower that produced nothing, to ignoring the Clinton campaign’s own ties to Fusion GPS, why some view your report as a pretty one-sided attack on the president?
|Mueller:||Well, I’ll tell you, this is still outside my purview.|
|Chabot:||All right. And I would just note, finally, that I guess it’s just by chance, by coincidence that the things left out of the report tended to be favorable to the president?|
- Martha Roby: If you worked together with Attorney General Barr on the redacted report, why did you complain about the redacted report?
First, Representative Roby confirmed that Mueller did work with Attorney General Barr to redact the Mueller report. Then she asked why Mr. Mueller complained about the tone of his own work.
|Roby:||Director Mueller, you just said in response to two different lines of questioning that you would refer as it relates to this firing discussion, that I would refer you to the report in the way it was characterized in the report. Importantly, the President never said, “Fire Mueller” or “End the investigation,” and one does not necessitate either. McGann in fact did not resign, but stuck around for a year and half. On March 24, Attorney General William Barr informed the committee that he had received special counsel’s report.– It was not until April 18 that the attorney general released the report to the congress and the public. When you submitted your report to the attorney general, did you deliver a redacted version of the report so that he would be able to release it to congress and the public without delay (pursuant to his announcement of his intention to do so during his confirmation hearing)?|
|Mueller:||I am not getting engaged in discussion of what happened after the report was prepared.|
|Roby:||Had the Attorney General asked you to provide a redacted version of the report?|
|Mueller:||We worked on the redacted versions together.|
|Roby:||Did he ask you for a version where the grand jury material was separated?|
|Mueller:||I cannot get into details.|
|Roby:||Is it your belief that an unredacted version of the report could be released to Congress or the public?|
|Mueller:||That’s not in my purview.|
|Roby:||(Video and audio loss) … Rule 6c material. Why did you not take a similar action? So Congress could view this material?|
|Mueller:||We had a process that we were operating on with the Attorney General’s office.|
|Roby:||Are you aware of any Attorney General going to court to receive similar permission to unredact 6c material?|
|Mueller:||I’m not aware of that being done.|
|Roby:||The Attorney General released the special counsel’s report with minimal redactions to the public and any even lesser redacted version to Congress. Did you write the report with the expectation that it would be released publicly?|
|Mueller:||No. We did not have tbat expectation. We wrote the report understanding that it was demanded by the statute and would go to the Attorney General for further review.|
|Roby:||And pursuant to the special counsel’s regulations, who is the only party that must receive the charging decision resulting from the special counsels investigation?|
|Mueller:||With regard to the President or generally?|
|Mueller:||The Attorney General.|
|Roby:||At Attorney General Barr’s confirmation hearing, he made it clear that he intended to release your report to the public. Do you remember how much of your report had been written at that point?|
|Mueller:||I do not.|
|Roby:||Were there significant changes in tone or substance of the report made after the announcement that the report would be made available to Congress in the public?|
|Mueller:||I can’t get into that.|
|Roby:||During the Senate testimony of Attorney General William Barr, Senator Kamala Harris asked Mr Barr if he had looked at all the underlying evidence that the special counsel’s team had gathered. He stated that he had not. So I’m gonna ask you. Did you personally review all of the underlying evidence gathered in your investigation?|
|Mueller:||Well, to the extent that it came through the special counsel’s office, yes.|
|Roby:||Did any single member of your team review all the underlying evidence gathered during the course of your …|
|Mueller:||(interrupting) As as has been recited here today, substantial amount of work was done whether it be be search warrant or …|
|Roby:||(interrupting) My point here is that there is no one member of the team that looked at everything.|
|Mueller:||That’s what I’m trying to get at.|
|Roby:||(interrupting)It’s fair to say that in an investigation is comprehensive is your’s, it is normal that different members of the team would have reviewed different sets of documents amd few, if anyone, would have reviewed all of the underlying.|
|Mueller:||Thank you, yes.|
|Roby:||How many of the approximately 500 interviews conducted by the special conference – do you attend personally?|
|Roby:||On March 27, 2019, you wrote a letter to the Attorney General essentially complaining about the media coverage of your report. You wrote (and I quote) “the summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work in conclusions. We communicated that concern to the Department n the morning of March 25. There is now public confusion about the critical aspects of the result of our investigation.” Who wrote that March 27th letter?|
|Mueller:||I can’t get into who wrote the internal deliberations …|
|Roby:||But you signed it?|
|Mueller:||What I will say is a letter stands for itself, okay?|
|Roby:||Why did you write a formal letter, since you had already called the Attorney General to express those concerns? Did you authorize the letters release to the media or was it leaked?|
|Mueller:||I can’t get into that. Internal deliberations.|
|Roby:||Did you authorize the letters release to the media or was it leaked?|
|Mueller:||I have no knowledge on either.|
|Roby:||Well, you went nearly two years without a leak. Why was this letter leaked?|
|Mueller:||I can’t get into that.|
|Roby:||Was this letter written and leaked for the expressed purpose of attempting to change the narrative about the conclusions of your report and was anything in Attorney General Barr’s letter referred to as “principled conclusions?”
Answer the question, please.
|Mueller:||Repeat the question.|
|Roby:||Was anything in attorney general bars letter referred to as the principal conclusions letter dated, March 24th innaccurate?|
|Mueller:||I am NOT going to get into that.|
- Matt Gaetz: Was the Steele dossier part of the Russian disinformation program?
Representative Gaetz probes to find why Mr. Mueller did not look to see whether the Steele dossier was part of a Russian disinformation program.
|Gaetz:||Director Mueller, can you state with confidence that the Steele dossier was not part of Russia’s disinformation campaign?|
|Mueller:||No. I said they – my opening statement that part of the building of the case predated me by at least 10 months.|
|Gaetz:||Yes. I mean, Paul Manafort’s alleged crimes regarding tax evasion predated you. You had no problem charging them, and a matter of fact, this Steele dossier predated the attorney general and he didn’t have any problem answering the question when Senator Cornyn asked the attorney general the exact question I asked you, Director. The attorney general said, and I’m quoting, “no. I can’t state that with confidence, and that’s one of the areas I’m reviewing. I’m concerned about it and I don’t think it’s entirely speculative.”
Now, something is not entirely speculative that it must have some factual basis, but you identify no factual basis regarding the dossier or the possibility that it was part of the Russia disinformation campaign. Now, Christopher Steele’s reporting is referenced in your report. Steele reported to the FBI that senior Russian foreign ministry figures among with other – along with other Russia’s told him that there was a – and I’m quoting from the Steele dossier – “extensive evidence of conspiracy between the Trump campaign team and the Kremlin.”
|Gaetz:||So here’s my question. Did Russians really tell that to Christopher Steele or did he just make it all up and was he lying to the FBI?|
|Mueller:||Let me back up a second if I could and say as I’ve said earlier, with regard to Steele, that’s beyond my purview.|
|Gaetz:||No it is exactly your purview Director Mueller and here’s why. Only one of two things is possible, right? Either Steele made this whole thing up and there were never any Russians telling him of this vast criminal conspiracy that you didn’t find or Russians lied to Steele. Now if Russians were lying to Steele to undermine our confidence in our duly elected president, that would seem to be precisely your purview because you stated in your opening that the organizing principle was to fully and thoroughly investigate Russia’s interference but you weren’t interested in whether or not Russians were interfering through Christopher Steele and if Steele was lying then you should have charged him with lying like you charged a variety of other people. But you say nothing about this in your report.|
|Gaetz:||Meanwhile, Director, you’re quite loquacious on other topics, you write 3,500 words about the June 9 meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya. You write on page 103 of your report that the president’s legal team suggested and I’m quoting from your report, “that the meeting might have been a set up by individuals working with the firm that produced the Steele reporting.” So I’m going to ask you a very easy question Director Mueller, on the week of June 9, who did Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya meet with more frequently, the Trump campaign or Glenn Simpson who is functionally acting as an operative for the Democratic National Committee?|
|Mueller:||Well what I think is missing here is the fact that this is under investigation and — elsewhere…|
|Gaetz:||I get that…|
|Mueller:||And if I could finish, sir. And if I could finish, sir. And consequently it’s not within my purview, the Department of Justice and FBI should be responsive to questions on this particular issue.|
|Gaetz:||It is absurd to suggest that a operative for the democrats was meeting with this Russian lawyer the day before, the day after the Trump Tower meeting and yet that’s not something you reference. Now Glenn Simpson testified under oath he had dinner with Veselnitskaya the day before and the day after this meeting with the Trump team. Do you have any basis as you sit here today to believe that Steele was lying?|
|Mueller:||As I said before and I’ll say again, it’s not my purview. Others are investigating what you…|
|Gaetz:||It’s not your purview to look into whether or not Steele is lying? It’s not your purview to look into whether or not anti-Trump Russians are lying to Steele? And it’s not your purview to look at whether or not Glenn Simpson was meeting with the Russians the day before and the day after you write 3,500 words about the Trump campaign meeting so I’m wondering how — how these decisions are guided. I look at the inspector general’s report. I’m citing from page 404 of the inspector general’s report. It states, “Page (ph) stated, Trump is not ever going to be president, right? Right?” Strzok replied, “No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” Also in the inspector general’s report there’s someone identified as “Attorney Number 2.” Attorney Number 2, this is page 419 replied, “Hell no,” and then added, “viva la resistance.” Attorney Number 2 in the inspector general’s report and Strzok both worked on your team, didn’t they?|
|Mueller:||Pardon me, can you ask…|
|Gaetz:||They both worked on your team didn’t they?|
|Mueller:||I heard Strzok. Who else are we talking about?|
|Gaetz:||Attorney Number 2 identified in the inspector general’s report.|
|Mueller:||OK. And the question was?|
|Gaetz:||Did he work for you? The guy who said, “Viva la resistance.”|
|Mueller:||Peter — Peter Strzok worked for me for a period of time, yes.|
|Gaetz:||Yes, but so did the other guy that said, “Viva la resistance.” And here’s what I’m kind of noticing Director Mueller, when people associated with Trump lied, you threw the book at them. When Christopher Steele lied, nothing. And so it seems to be when Simpson met with Russians, nothing. When the Trump campaign met with Russians, 3,500 words. And maybe the reason why there are these discrepancies in what you focused on because the team was so biased…|
|Nadler:||Time of the — time of the gentleman has expired.|
|Gaetz:||… (inaudible) resistance, pledged to stop Trump.|
- Tom McClintock: Were political facts left out of your report in order to cast the President in a negative light?
Representative McClintock questions whether Mueller used political facts to cast the President in a bad light.
|McClintock:||Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mueller, over here. Thanks for joining us today. You had three discussions with Rod Rosenstein about your appointment as special counsel May 10, May 12, and May 13, correct?|
|Mueller:||If you say so, I have no reason to dispute that.|
|McClintock:||Then you met with the president on the 16th with Rod Rosenstein present. And then on the 17th, you were formally appointed as special counsel. Were you meeting with the president on the 16th with knowledge that you were under consideration for appointment of special counsel?|
|Mueller:||I did not believe I was under consideration for counsel. The — I had served two terms as FBI director…|
|McClintock:||We consider (ph) the answer’s no.|
|Mueller:||The answer’s no.|
|McClintock:||Gregg Jarrett describes your office as the team of partisans. And additional information’s coming to light, there’s a growing concern that political biased caused important facts to be omitted from your report in order to cast the president unfairly in a negative light.
For example, John Dowd, the president’s lawyer, leaves a message with Michael Flynn’s lawyer on November 17 in 2017 — November 2017. The edited version in your report makes it appear that he was improperly asking for confidential information, and that’s all we know from your report expect that the judge in the Flynn case ordered the entire transcript released in which Dowd makes it crystal clear that’s not what he was suggesting. So my question’s why did you edit the transcript to hide the exculpatory part of the message?
|Mueller:||I will answer and I will agree (ph) with your characterization as we did anything to hide…|
|McClintock:||Well, you omitted — you omitted it. You quoted the part where he says we need some kind of heads up just for the sake of protecting all of our interests if we can, but you omitted the portion where he says without giving up any confidential information.|
|Mueller:||Well, I’m not going to go further in terms of discussing the…|
|McClintock:||Well, let’s go on.|
|Mueller:||… what’s — what the (ph)…|
|McClintock:||You — you extensively discussed Konstantin Kilimnik’s activities with Paul Manafort. And you described him as, quote, “A Russian/Ukrainian political consultant,” and, “longtime employee of Paul Manafort, assessed by the FBI to have ties to Russian intelligence.”
And again, that’s all we know from your report, except we’ve since learned from news articles that Kilimnik was actually a U.S. State Department intelligence source, yet nowhere in your report is he so identified. Why was that fact omitted?
|Mueller:||I don’t — I don’t necessarily credit what you’re saying occurred.|
|McClintock:||Were you aware that Kilimnik was a — a… (CROSSTALK)|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to go into the…|
|McClintock:||…State Department source?|
|Mueller:||… ins and outs — I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of what we had in the — in the course… (CROSSTALK)|
|McClintock:||Did you interview…|
|Mueller:||… in the course of our investigation.|
|McClintock:||… did you interview Konstantin Kilimnik?|
|McClintock:||Did you interview Konstantin Kilimnik?|
|Mueller:||I can’t go into the discussion of our investigative moves.|
|McClintock:||And — and — and yet that is the — the — the basis of your report. Again, the problem we’re having is we have to rely on your report for an accurate reflection of the evidence and we’re starting to find out that’s — that’s not true.
For example, you — you — your report famously links Russian Internet troll farms with the Russian government. Yet, at a hearing on May 28th in the Concord Management IRA prosecution that you initiated, the judge excoriated both you and Mr. Barr for producing no evidence to support this claim. Why did you suggest Russia was responsible for the troll farms, when, in court, you’ve been unable to produce any evidence to support it?
|Mueller:||Well, I am not going to get into that any further than I — than I already have.|
|McClintock:||But — but you — you have left the clear impression throughout the country, through your report, that it — it was the Russian government behind the troll farms. And yet, when you’re called upon to provide actual evidence in court, you fail to do so.|
|Mueller:||Well, I would again dispute your characterization of what occurred in that — in that proceeding.|
|McClintock:||In — in — in fact, the judge considering — considered holding prosecutors in criminal contempt. She backed off, only after your hastily called press conference the next day in which you retroactively made the distinction between the Russian government and the Russia troll farms.
Did your press conference on May 29th have anything to do with the threat to hold your prosecutors in contempt the previous day for publicly misrepresenting the evidence?
|Mueller:||What was the question?|
|McClintock:||The — the question is, did your May 29th press conference have anything to do with the fact that the previous day the judge threatened to hold your prosecutors in contempt for misrepresenting evidence?|
|McClintock:||Now, the — the — the fundamental problem is — is that, as I said, we’ve got to take your word, your team faithfully, accurately, impartially and completely described all of the underlying evidence in the Mueller report.
And we’re finding more and more instances where this just isn’t the case. And it’s starting to look like, you know, having desperately tried and failed to make a legal case against the president, you made a political case instead. You put it in a paper sack, lit it on fire, dropped it on our porch, rang the doorbell and ran.
|Mueller:||I don’t think you reviewed a report that is as thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report that we have in front of us.|
|McClintock:||Then — then why is contradictory information…|
|Nadler:||(CROSSTALK) The time of the gentleman has expired…|
|McClintock:||… continuing to come out?|
- Guy Reschenthaler: Although our legal system is built on innocent-until-proven-guilty and the right to face our accusers, haven’t you smeared the President and prevented him from facing his accusers?
Representative Reschenthaler points out how Mueller seems to have smeared the President without allowing him to face his accusers.
|Reschenthaler:||Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Mueller. I’m over here, I’m sorry. Mr. Mueller, are you familiar with the now expired independent counsel statute. It’s a statue under which Ken Starr was appointed.|
|Mueller:||That Ken Starr did what? I’m sorry.|
|Reschenthaler:||Are you familiar with the independent counsel statute?|
|Mueller:||Are you talking about the one we’re operating under now or previous?|
|Reschenthaler:||No. Under which Ken Starr was appointed.|
|Mueller:||I am not that familiar with that but I’d be happy to take your question.|
|Reschenthaler:||Well the Clinton Administration allowed the independent counsel statute to expire after Ken Starr’s investigation. The final report requirement was a major reason why the statute was allowed to expire. Even President Clinton’s A.G. Janet Reno expressed concerns about the final report requirement and I’ll quote A.G. Reno. She said, “On one hand the American people have an interest in knowing the outcome of an investigation of their highest officials. On the other hand, the report requirement cuts against many of the most basic traditions and practices of American law enforcement. Under our system, we presume innocence and we value privacy. We believe that information obtained during a criminal investigation should, in most cases be made public only if there’s an indictment and prosecution not any lengthy and detailed report filed after a decision has been made not to prosecute. The final report provides a forum for unfairly airing a target’s dirty laundry and it also creates yet another incentive for an independent counsel to over investigate in order to justify his or her tenure and to avoid criticism that the independent counsel may have left a stone unturned.”
Again, Mr. Mueller, those are A.G. Reno’s words. Didn’t you do exactly what A.G. Reno feared? Didn’t you publish a lengthy report unfairly airing the target’s dirty laundry without recommending charges?
|Mueller:||I disagree with that and …|
|Reschenthaler:||OK. Did any — did any of your witnesses …|
|Mueller:||Can I finish?|
|Reschenthaler:||… have the chance to be cross examined?|
|Mueller:||Can I just finish my answer on that?|
|Reschenthaler:||Quickly. My time…|
|Mueller:||We operate under the current statute not the original statute so I’m most familiar with the current statute not the older statute.|
|Reschenthaler:||OK. Did any of the witnesses have a chance to be cross examined?|
|Mueller:||Did any of the witnesses in our investigation?|
|Mueller:||I’m going to answer that.|
|Reschenthaler:||Did you allow the people mentioned in your report to challenge how they were characterized?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to get into that.|
|Reschenthaler:||Given that A.G. Barr stated multiple times during his confirmation hearing that he would make as much of your report public as possible, did you write your report knowing that it would likely be shared with the public?|
|Reschenthaler:||Did knowing that the report could and likely would be made public, did that alter contents would you include it?|
|Mueller:||I can’t speak to that.|
|Reschenthaler:||Despite the expectations that your report would be released to the public, you left out significant exculpatory evidence. In other words, evidence favorable to the president correct?|
|Mueller:||Well, I actually would disagree with you. I think we strove to put into the report exculpatory (inaudible) as well…|
|Reschenthaler:||(inaudible) got into that with you where he said there was — you said there was evidence you left out.|
|Mueller:||Well, you make a choice as to what goes into a indictment.|
|Reschenthaler:||Isn’t it true — Mr. Mueller, isn’t it true that on page 1, Volume 2 you state when you’re quoting the statute the obligation to either prosecute or not prosecute?|
|Mueller:||Well, generally that is the case.|
|Mueller:||Although most cases are not done in the context of the president.|
|Reschenthaler:||In this case you made a decision not to prosecute, correct?|
|Mueller:||No. We made a decision not to decide whether to prosecute or not.|
|Reschenthaler:||So essentially what your report did was everything that A.G. Reno warned against?|
|Mueller:||I can’t agree with that characterization.|
|Reschenthaler:||OK, well what you did is you compiled a nearly 450 — you compiled nearly 450 pages of the very worst information you gathered against the target of your investigation who happens to be the President of the United States and you did this knowing that you were not going to recommend charges and that the report would be made public.|
|Reschenthaler:||Mr. Mueller, as a former officer in the United States JAG Corps I prosecuted nearly 100 terrorists in a Baghdad courtroom. I cross-examined the Butcher of Fallujah in defense of our Navy SEALS. As a civilian, I was elected a magisterial district judge in Pennsylvania, so I’m very well-versed in the American legal system. The drafting and the publication of some of the information in this report without an indictment, without prosecution frankly flies in the face of American justice and I find those facts and this entire process un-American. I yield the remainder of my time to my colleague Jim Jordan.|
- Jim Jordan: When Mr Mifsud lied three times to the FBI, why didn’t you charge him the way you charged people associated with the Trump campaign who lied once?
Although they charged Trump-related individuals for lying to the FBI, they did not charge the guy who started it all who lied three times to the FBI. Why is this allowed?
|Jordan:||Director, the FBI interviewed Joseph Mifsud on February 10th, 2017. In that interview, Mr. Mifsud lied. You point this out on page 193, Volume 1, Mifsud denied, Mifsud also falsely stated. In addition, Mifsud omitted. Three times, he lied to the FBI; yet, you didn’t charge him with a crime. Why…(CROSSTALK)|
|Mueller:||Excuse me — are…|
|Jordan:||… Why not?|
|Mueller:||… did you say — I’m sorry, did you say 193?|
|Jordan:||Volume 1, 193. He lied three times, you point it out in the report, why didn’t you charge him with a crime?|
|Mueller:||I can’t get into internal deliberations with regard to who or who would not be charged.|
|Jordan:||You charged a lot of other people for making false statements. Let’s remember this — let’s remember this, in 2016 the FBI did something they probably haven’t done before, they spied on two American citizens associated with a presidential campaign.
George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. With Carter Page they went to the FISA court, they used the now famous dossier as part of the reason they were able to get the warrant and spy on Carter Page for a better part of a year. With Mr. Papadopoulos, they didn’t go to the court, they used human sources, all kinds of — from about the moment Papadopoulos joins the Trump campaign, you’ve got all these people all around the world starting to swirl around him, names like Halper, Downer, Mifsud, Thompson, meeting in Rome, London, all kinds of places.
The FBI even sent — even sent a lady posing as somebody else, went by the name Azmiturk (ph), even dispatched her to London to spy on Mr. Papadopoulos. In one of these meetings, Mr. Papadopoulos is talking to a foreign diplomat and he tells the diplomat Russians have dirt on Clinton. That diplomat then contacts the FBI and the FBI opens an investigation based on that fact. You point this out on page 1 of the report. July 31st, 2016 they open the investigation based on that piece of information.
Diplomat tells Papadopoulos Russians have dirt — excuse me, Papadopoulos tells the diplomat Russians have dirt on Clinton, diplomat tells the FBI. What I’m wondering is who told Papadopoulos? How’d he find out?
|Mueller:||I can’t get into the evidentiary filings.|
|Jordan:||Yes, you can because you wrote about it, you gave us the answer. Page 192 of the report, you tell us who told him. Joseph Mifsud, Joseph Mifsud’s the guy who told Papadopoulos, the mysterious professor who lives in Rome and London, works at — teaches in two different universities.
This is the guy who told Papadopoulos he’s the guy who starts it all, and when the FBI interviews him, he lies three times and yet you don’t charge him with a crime. You charge Rick Gates for false statements, you charge Paul Manafort for false statements, you charge Michael Cohen with false statements, you charge Michael Flynn a three star general with false statements, but the guy who puts the country through this whole saga, starts it all for three years we’ve lived this now, he lies and you guys don’t charge him. And I’m curious as to why.
|Mueller:||Well I can’t get into it and it’s obvious I think that we can’t get into charging decisions.|
|Jordan:||When the FBI interviewed him in February — FBI interviews him in February, when the Special Counsel’s Office interviewed Mifsud, did he lie to you guys too?|
|Mueller:||Can’t get into that.|
|Jordan:||Did you interview Mifsud?|
|Mueller:||Can’t get into that.|
|Jordan:||Is Mifsud western intelligence or Russian intelligence?|
|Mueller:||Can’t get into that.|
|Jordan:||A lot of things you can’t get into. What’s interesting, you can charge 13 Russians no one’s ever heard of, no one’s ever seen, no one’s ever going to hear of them, no one’s ever going to see them, you can charge them, you can charge all kinds of people who are around the president with false statements but the guy who launches everything, the guy who puts this whole story in motion, you can’t charge him. I think that’s amazing.|
|Mueller:||I’m not certain I — I’m not certain I agree with your characterizations.|
|Jordan:||Well I’m reading from your report, Mifsud told Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos tells the diplomat, the diplomat tells the FBI, the FBI opens the investigation July 31st, 2016.
And here we are three years later, July of 2019, the country’s been put through this and the central figure who launches it all, lies to us and you guys don’t hunt him down and interview him again and you don’t charge him with a crime.
Now here’s the good news, here’s the good news, the president was falsely accused of conspiracy. The FBI does a 10 month investigation and James Comey when we deposed him a year ago told us at that point they had nothing. You do a 22-month investigation, at the end of that 22 months you find no conspiracy and what’s the Democrats want to do, they want to keep investigating, they want to keep going. Maybe a better course of action, maybe a better course of action is to figure out how the false accusations started, maybe it’s to go back and actually figure out why Joseph Mifsud was lying to the FBI. And here’s the good news, here’s the good news, that’s exactly what Bill Barr is doing. And thank goodness for that. That’s exactly what the attorney general and John Durham doing, they’re going to find out why we went through this three year…
|Nadler:||The time of the gentleman…|
|Jordan:||…three year saga and get to the bottom of it.|
- Ben Cline: How many of your team’s witch-hunt tactics have been overturned on appeal?
Representative Cline rightfully asks how many of the team’s tactics have been turned over on appeal.
|Cline:||Thank You Mr. Chairman, Mr. Kolbe. Mr. Mueller, we’ve heard a lot about what you’re not going to talk about today. So let’s talk about something that you should be able to talk about: the law itself (the underlying obstruction statute and your creative legal analysis of the statutes in Volume 2, particularly an interpretation of 18 USC 1512 C). Section 1512 C, is an obstruction of justice statute created as part of auditing and financial regulations for public companies.
As you write on page 164 of Volume 2, this provision was added as a floor amendment in the Senate and explained as closing a certain loophole with respect to document shredding and to read the statute:
“Whoever corruptly alters destroys mutilates or conceals a record document or other object or attempts to do so with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in a fit in an official proceeding or otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding or attempts to do so shall be fined under the statue or imprisoned not more than 20 years or both.”
Your analysis and application of the statute proposes to give Clause C2 a much broader interpretation than commonly used. First, your analysis proposes to read Clause C2 in isolation: reading it as a free-standing, all-encompassing provision prohibiting any act influencing a proceeding if done with an improper motive. Second, your analysis of the statute proposes to apply the sweeping prohibition to lawful acts taken by public officials exercising their discretionary powers if those acts influence a proceeding. So, Mr. Mueller, I would ask you, in analyzing the obstruction you state that you recognize that the Department of Justice and the courts have not definitively resolved these issues. Correct?
|Cline:||You’d agree that not everyone in the Justice Department agreed with your legal theory of the obstruction of justice statute. Correct?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to be involved in the discussion on on that at this juncture.|
|Cline:||In fact, the Attorney General himself disagrees with your interpretation of the law, correct?|
|Mueller:||I leave that to the Attorney General to identify.|
|Cline:||You would agree that prosecutors sometimes incorrectly apply the law, correct?|
|Mueller:||I would have to agree with that one.|
|Cline:||… and members of your legal team, in fact, have had convictions overturned because they were based on an incorrect legal theory, correct?|
|Mueller:||I don’t know to what you advert. We’ve all (CROSSTALK)|
|Cline:||Well, in time, … (CROSSTALK)|
|Mueller:||… in the trenches. We have all had one of those cases.|
|Cline:||Well, let me ask you about one in particular. One of your top prosecutors Andrew Weissman obtained a conviction against auditing firm Authur Anderson in lower court which was subsequently overturned in a unanimous Supreme Court decision that rejected the legal theory advanced by Weissman, correct?|
|Mueller:||Well, I’m not gonna get into delve into …|
|Cline:||Let me read from that.|
|Mueller:||May I just finish?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to be involved in a discussion on that. I will refer you to that citation that you gave at the outset for the lengthy discussion on just what you’re talking about and to the extent that I have say anything to say about it. It is what we have already put into the report on that.|
|Cline:||I am reading from your report when discussing this section now. I’ll read from the decision of the Supreme Court unanimously reversing Mr. Weissman, when he said, “Indeed, it’s striking how little culpability the instructions required. For example, the jury was told that even if petitioner honestly and sincerely believed as conduct was lawful, the jury could convict. The instructions also diluted the meaning of ‘corruptly’ such that it covered innocent conduct.”|
|Mueller:||Let me just say …|
|Cline:||No. Let me move on. I have limited time. Your report takes the broadest possible reading of this provision in applying it to the president’s official acts and I’m concerned about the implications of your theory for over criminalizing conduct by public officials and private citizens alike. So to emphasize how broad your theory of liability is, I want to ask you about a few examples. On October 11, 2015, during the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, President Obama said, “I don’t think it posed a national security problem.” And he later said “I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”
Assuming for a moment that his comments did influence the investigation, couldn’t President Obama be charged under your interpretation with obstruction of justice?
|Mueller:||Well again, I’d refer you to the report, but let me say with Andrew Weissman is one of the more talented attorneys that we Haven’t have on board.|
|Cline:||Well, I’ll take that|
|Mueller:||…over a period of time. He is run a number Units|
|Cline:||I have very little time. In August 2015, a very senior DOJ official called FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe expressing concern that FBI agents were still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe. The DOJ official was apparently “very pissed off.” McCabe questioned this official asking “Are you telling me I need to shut down a vallidly predicated investigation?” to which the official replied, “Of course not. This seems to be a clear example of somebody within the executive branch attempting to influence an FBI investigation.” So, under your theory, couldn’t that person be charged with obstruction as long as a prosecutor could come up with a potentially corrupt motive?|
|Mueller:||I refer you to our lengthy dissertation on exactly those issues as it appears in the at the end of the report.|
|Cline:||Mr Mueller, I argue that it says above the Supreme Court “equal justice…”|
- Greg Steube: Multiple times, you call the Steele dossier “unverified.” When did you determine it was unverified? When did you become aware that the unverified Steele dossier was used to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page?
Representative Steube asks Mueller why he based his investigation on what was known to be an unverified dossier.
|Steube:||Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Mueller, over here. Mr. Mueller did you indeed interview for the FBI director job one day before you were appointed as Special Counsel?|
|Mueller:||My understanding I was not applying for that job, I was asked to give my input on what it would take to do the job, which triggered the interview you’re talking about.|
|Steube:||So you don’t recall on May 16th, 2017 that you interviewed with the president regarding the FBI director job?|
|Mueller:||I interviewed with the president and it was about…|
|Steube:||Regarding the FBI director job?|
|Mueller:||…it was about the job and not about me applying for the job.|
|Steube:||So your statement here today is that you didn’t interview to apply for the FBI director job?|
|Steube:||So it – did you tell the vice president that the FBI director position would be the one job that you would come back to – for?|
|Mueller:||I don’t recall that one.|
|Steube:||You don’t recall that?|
|Steube:||OK. Given your 22 months of investigation, tens of million dollars spent and millions of documents reviewed, did you obtain any evidence at all that any American voter changed their vote as a result of Russia’s election interference?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to speak to that.|
|Steube:||You can’t speak to that after 22 months of investigation, there’s not any evidence in that document before us that any voter changed their vote because of their interference and I’m asking you based on all of the documents that you reviewed…|
|Mueller:||That was – that was outside our purview.|
|Steube:||Russian meddling was outside your purview?|
|Mueller:||But the impact of that meddling was undertaken by other agencies.|
|Steube:||OK, you stated in your opening statement that you would not get into the details of the Steele Dossier. However multiple times in Volume 2 on page 23, 27 and 28 you mentioned the unverified allegations. How long did it take you to reach the conclusion that it was unverified?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to speak to that.|
|Steube:||It’s in – it’s actually in your report multiple times that its unverified and you’re telling me that you’re not willing to tell us how you came to conclusion that it was unverified?|
|Steube:||When did you become aware that the unverified Steele Dossier was included in the FISA application to spy on Carter Page?|
|Mueller:||I’m sorry, what was the – what was the question?|
|Steube:||When did you become aware that the unverified Steele Dossier was intended – was included in the FISA application to spy on Carter Page?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to speak to that.|
|Steube:||Your team interviewed Christopher Steele, is that correct?|
|Mueller:||Not going to get into that. I said it – I…|
|Steube:||You can’t – you can’t – you can’t tell this committee as to whether or not you interviewed Christopher Steele in a 22 month investigation with 18 lawyers?|
|Mueller:||As I said at the outset, that is one of those – one of the investigations that is being handled by others in the Department of Justice.|
|Steube:||Yes but you’re here testifying about this investigation today and I am asking you directly did any members of your team or did you interview Christopher Steele in the course of your investigation.|
|Mueller:||And I am not going to answer that question, sir.|
|Steube:||You had two years to investigate, not once did you consider it worthy to investigate how an unverified document that was paid for by a political opponent was used to obtain a warrant to spy on the opposition political campaign. Did you do any investigation in that way (ph)?|
|Mueller:||I do not accept your characterization of what occurred.|
|Steube:||What would you – what would be your characterization?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to speak any more to it.|
|Steube:||So you can’t speak any more to it but you’re not going to agree with my characterization? Is that correct?|
|Steube:||The FISA application makes reference to Source 1, who is Christopher Steele, the author of the Steele Dossier. The FISA application says nothing Sources 1’s reason for conducting the research into Canada 1′ (ph) ties to Russia. Based on Source’s 1 previous reporting history with FBI, whereby Source One provided reliable information to the FBI. The FBI believes Source One’s reporting herein to be credible. Do you believe the FBI’s representation that Source 1’s reporting was credible to be accurate?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to answer that.|
|Steube:||So you’re not going to respond to any of the questions regarding Christopher Steele or your interviews with him?|
|Mueller:||Well as I said at the outset this morning, that was one of the investigations that I could not speak to.|
|Steube:||Well I don’t understand how if you interviewed an individual on the purview of this investigation that you’re testifying to us today that you’ve closed that investigation, how that’s not within your purview to tell us about that investigation and who you interviewed.|
|Mueller:||I have nothing to add.|
|Steube:||OK well the – I can guarantee that the American people want to know and I’m – and I’m very hopeful and glad that A.G. Barr is looking into this and the inspector general is looking into this because you’re unwilling to answer the questions of the American people as it relates to the very basis of this investigation into the president and the very basis of this individual who you did interview, you’re just refusing to answer those questions.
Can – can’t the president fire the FBI director at any time without reason under the Article I of the Constitution?
|Steube:||That’s correct. Can’t he also fire U.S. Special Counsel at any time without any reason?|
|Mueller:||I believe that to be the case.|
|Steube:||Under Article II.|
|Mueller:||Well hold on just a second, you said without any reason, I know the Special Counsel can be fired, but I’m not certain it extends to for whatever reasons is given.|
|Steube:||Well then you’ve testified that you weren’t fired, you were able to complete your investigation in full. Is that correct?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to add to what I’ve stated before.|
- Kelly Armstrong: Why did you assemble a team of 18 Democrats that included the lawyer who destroyed Hillary Clinton’s mobile devices?
Here, Representative Armstrong asks Mr. Mueller why only Democrats (especially those who had formerly worked for Hillary) investigated on this team.
|Armstrong:||Mr. Mueller, how many people did you fire – how many people on your staff did you fire during the course of the investigation?|
|Mueller:||How many people…|
|Armstrong:||Did you fire?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to discuss that.|
|Armstrong:||You fired – according to inspector general’s report, attorney number two was let go and we know Peter Strzok was let go, correct?|
|Mueller:||Yes, and there may have been other persons on other issues that have been either transferred or fired.|
|Armstrong:||Peter Strzok testified before this Committee on July 12, 2018 that he was fired because you were concerned about preserving the appearance of independence. Do you agree with this testimony?|
|Mueller:||Say that again if you could?|
|Armstrong:||He said he was fired at least partially because you were worried about – concerned about preserving the appearance of independence with the special counsel’s investigation. Do you agree with that statement?|
|Mueller:||And the statement was by whom?|
|Armstrong:||Peter Strzok at this hearing.|
|Mueller:||I am not familiar with that.|
|Armstrong:||Did you fire him because you were worried about the appearance of independence of the investigation?|
|Mueller:||No. He was transferred as a result of instances involving texts.|
|Armstrong:||Do you agree that – do you agree that your office did not only have an obligation to operate with independence but to operate with the appearance of independence as well?|
|Mueller:||Absolutely. We strove to do that over the two years.|
|Mueller:||Part of that was making certain that…|
|Armstrong:||Andrew Weissmann’s one of your top attorneys?|
|Armstrong:||Did Weissmann have a role is selecting other members of your team?|
|Mueller:||He had some role but not a major role.|
|Armstrong:||Andrew Weissmann attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party. Did you know that before or after he came onto the team?|
|Mueller:||I don’t know when I found that out.|
|Armstrong:||On January 30, 2017, Weissmann wrote an email to Deputy Attorney General Yates stating, “I am so proud and in awe regarding her disobeying a direct order from the president.” Did Weissmann disclose that email to you before he joined the team?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to talk about that.|
|Armstrong:||Is that not a conflict of interest?|
|Mueller:||Not going to talk about that.|
|Armstrong:||Are you aware that Ms. Jeannie Rhee represented Hillary Clinton in litigation regarding personal emails originating from Clinton’s time as Secretary of State?|
|Armstrong:||Did you know that before she came on the…|
|Armstrong:||Aaron Zelbley, the guy sitting next to you, represented Justin Cooper, a Clinton aide who destroyed one of Clinton’s mobile devices, and you must be aware by now that six of your lawyers donated $12,000 directly to Hillary Clinton. I’m not even talking about the $49,000 they donated to other democrats, just the donations to the opponent who was the target of your investigation.|
|Mueller:||Can I speak for a second to the hiring practices?|
|Mueller:||We strove to hire those individuals that could do that job.|
|Mueller:||I have been in this business for almost 25 years, and in those 25 years I have not had occasion once to ask somebody about their political affiliation. It is not done. What I care about is the capability of the individual to do the job and do the job quickly and seriously and with integrity.|
|Armstrong:||But that’s what I’m saying, Mr. Mueller. This isn’t just about you being able to vouch for your team. This is about knowing that the day you accepted this role you had to be aware no matter what this report concluded half of the country was going to be scheduled – skeptical of your team’s findings, and that’s why we have recusal laws that define bias and perceive bias for this very reason.
28 United States code 5218 (ph) specifically lists not just political conflict of interest but the appearance of political conflicts of interest. It’s just simply not enough that you vouch for your team.
The interest (inaudible) demand that no perceived bias exists. I can’t imagine a single prosecutor or judge that I have every appeared in front of would be comfortable with these circumstances where over half of the prosecutorial team had a direct relationship to the opponent of the person being investigated.
|Mueller:||Let me one other fact that I put on the table, and that is we hired 19 lawyers over the period of time. Of those 19 lawyers, 14 of them were transferred from elsewhere in the Department of Justice. Only five came from outside, so we did not have…|
|Armstrong:||And half of them had a direct relationship, political or personal, with the opponent of the person you were investigating, and that’s my point. I wonder if not a single word in this entire report was change but rather the only difference was we switched Hillary Clinton and President Trump.
If Peter Strzok has texted those terrible things about Hillary Clinton instead of President Trump, if a team of lawyers worked for, donated thousands of dollars to, and went to Trump’s parties instead of Clinton’s, I don’t think we’d be here trying to prop up an obstruction allegation.
My colleagues would have spent the last four months accusing your team of being bought and paid for by the Trump campaign and we couldn’t trust a single word of this report. They would still be accusing the president of conspiracy with Russia and they would be accusing your team of aiding and embedding with that conspiracy, and with that I yield back.
- Mike Johnson: Why did your team include 14 Democrats and 0 Republicans? Why did you hire Democrat bundlers who raised $60,000 for the Hillary campaign?
Finally, Representative Johnson asked why each of the Democrats hired for Mueller’s team each raised at least $60,000 for Hillary Clinton.
|Johnson:||Mr. Mueller, you’ve been asked — over here on the — on the far right, sir — you’ve been asked a lot of questions here today. And to be frank, you performed as most of us expected. You’ve stuck closely to your report and you have declined to answer many of our questions on both sides.
As the closer for the Republican side, I know you’re glad to get to the close, I want to summarize the highlights of what we have heard and what we know.
You spent two years, and nearly $30 million taxpayer dollars and unlimited resources to prepare a nearly 450-page report which you describe today as very thorough. Millions of Americans today maintain genuine concerns about your work, in large part, because of the infamous and widely publicized bias of your investigating team members, which we now know included 14 Democrats and 0 Republicans.
Campaign finance reports later showed that team… (CROSSTALK)
|Johnson:||… Excuse me, it’s my time. That team of Democrat investigators you hired donated more than $60,000 to the Hillary Clinton campaign and other Democratic candidates. Your team also included Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, which have been discussed today, and they had the lurid text messages that confirm they openly mocked and hated Donald Trump and his supporters, and they vowed to take him out.
Mr. Ratcliffe asked you earlier this morning, quote, “Can you give me an example, other than Donald Trump, where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?” unquote. You answered, “I cannot.” Sir, that is unprecedented.
The president believed from the very beginning that you and your special counsel team had serious conflicts this is stated in the report and acknowledged by everybody. And yet, President Trump cooperated fully with the investigation. He knew he had done nothing wrong, and he encouraged all witnesses to cooperate with the investigation and produce more than 1.4 million pages of information, and allowed over 40 witnesses who are directly affiliated with the White House or his campaign.
Your report acknowledges on page 61, Volume 2 that a volume of evidence exists of the president telling many people privately, quote, “The president was concerned about the impact of the Russian investigation on his ability to govern, and to address important foreign relations issues and even matters of national security.”
And on page 174, Volume 2 your report also acknowledges that the Supreme Court has held, quote, “The president’s removal powers are at their zenith with respect to principal officers — that is, officers who must be appointed by the president and who report to him directly. The president’s ‘exclusive and illimitable power of removal’ of those principal officers furthers ‘the president’s ability to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed,'” unquote. And that would even include the attorney general. Look, in spite of all of that, nothing ever happened to stop or impede your special counsel’s investigation. Nobody was fired by the president, nothing was curtailed and the investigation continued unencumbered for 22 long months.
As you finally concluded in Volume 1, the evidence, quote, “Did not establish that the president was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” unquote. And the evidence, quote, “did not establish that the president or those close to him were involved in any Russian conspiracies or had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official,” unquote. Over those 22 long months that your investigation dragged along, the president became increasingly frustrated as many of the American people did with its effects on our country and – and his ability to govern.
He vented about this to his lawyer and his close associates and he even shared his frustrations, as we all know, on twitter. But while the president’s social media accounts might have influenced some in the media or the opinion of some the American people, none of those audiences were targets or witnesses in your investigation.
The president never affected anybody’s testimony. He never demanded to end the investigation or demanded that you be terminated and he never misled Congress, the DOJ or the special counsel. Those, sir, are her undisputed facts. There will be a lot of discussion I predict today and great frustration throughout the country about the fact that you wouldn’t answer any questions here about the origins of this whole charade, which was the infamous Christopher Steele dossier, now proven to be totally bogus, even though it is listed and specifically referenced in your report.
But as our hearing is concluding, we apparently will get no comment on that from you. Mr. Mueller there’s one primary reason why you were called here today by the democrat majority of our committee. Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle just want political cover. They desperately wanted you today to tell them they should impeach the president but the one thing you have said very clearly today is that your report is complete and thorough and you completely agree with and stand by its recommendations and all of its content. Is that right?
|Johnson:||Mr. Mueller, one last important question. Your report does not recommend impeachment, does it?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to talk about recommendations.|
|Johnson:||It does not conclude that impeachment would be appropriate here, right?|
|Mueller:||I’m not going to talk – I’m not going to talk about that – about that issue.|
|Johnson:||That’s one of the many things you wouldn’t talk about today but I think we can all draw our own conclusions. I do thank you for your service to the country and I’m glad this charade will come to an end soon and we can get back to the important business of this committee with its broad jurisdiction of so many important issues for the country. With that, I yield back.|