Politics

It's Mueller Time ... Again

Stuttering, stumbling, asking to repeat questions — the special counsel's testimony is a train wreck.

Nate Jackson · Jul. 24, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller opened his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee this morning by reiterating what he asserted at his post-report press conference in May: “I do not intend to summarize or describe the results of our work in a different way in the course of my testimony today. As I said on May 29, the [448-page] report is my testimony. And I will stay within that text. And as I stated in May, I also will not comment on the actions of the attorney general or of Congress. I was appointed as a prosecutor, and I intend to adhere to that role and to the [Justice] Department’s standards that govern it.”

Mueller had initially insisted he would not testify before Congress, but he eventually reached a deal to do so. He would have been better off not showing up today, because it’s been a slow-motion train wreck.

According to The Federalist’s Sean Davis, “I’m not sure anyone could have done more to discredit Mueller’s report and investigation than Mueller is doing right now. He can’t answer simple questions about his own investigation, fumbles answers about his own report, and seems utterly befuddled by what’s happening.” Specifically, Mueller said he wasn’t familiar with Fusion GPS or Glenn Simpson, its founder, despite Fusion being the firm that produced the phony Christopher Steele dossier — funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC — that got the whole collusion hoax off the ground. Mueller said in his opening statement that he would not discuss “the so-called ‘Steele dossier’” because it was “the subject of ongoing review” by the FBI and “it’s outside my purview,” but the appearance of being stumped by basic questions is nonetheless troubling.

Davis also observes, “Mueller just said his deputy, who was the personal attorney for the Hillary Clinton aide who smashed her Blackberries, was in charge of ‘day-to-day oversight’ of Mueller’s investigation. What exactly was Mueller doing?” For two years and $35 million, we might add. Furthermore, the fact that Clinton’s people were the ones composing Mueller’s team exposed it from the beginning as a partisan witch hunt. That those hunters still found no witches is even more telling.

Fox News’s Brit Hume notes, “Mueller stumbles badly on whether ‘collusion’ is a synonym for ‘conspiracy’ in Russian election interference. He says no, only to have his report quoted back to him saying the words are synonymous. He then says he’ll go with what the report says.” Maybe Mueller should have reviewed his own report prior to coming to Capitol Hill.

Democrats, of course, moved the goal posts to “obstruction of justice” — as in alleging that Trump committed it against Mueller’s investigation. Mueller has always been as ambiguous as possible about this. His report specifically did not exonerate Trump, and today he said simply “Yes” when asked if the president could be charged with obstruction after leaving office.

But he also could not provide a single other instance in which the subject of an investigation had to prove his innocence. “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?” asked Rep. John Ratcliffe. “I cannot,” Mueller answered, “but this is a unique situation.” Ratcliffe fired back, “It doesn’t exist.” That’s because “the bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence.”

Mueller still must testify before the House Intelligence Committee this afternoon, so stay tuned for more thrilling excitement from the never-ending story.

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