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Mueller says Trump was not exonerated but Trump declares victory


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Mueller says Trump was not exonerated but Trump declares victory

By David Morgan and Jan Wolfe

 

2019-07-24T134401Z_1_LYNXNPEF6N167_RTROPTP_4_USA-TRUMP-MUELLER.JPG

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Office of Special Counsel's investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller emphasized on Wednesday he had not exonerated Donald Trump of obstruction of justice, as the president has claimed, but his long-awaited congressional testimony did little to add momentum to any Democratic impeachment ambitions and Trumpheartily declared victory.

 

"This was a very big day for the Republican Party. And you could say this was a great day for me, but I don't even like to say that," the Republican president said after Mueller's lengthy testimony in back-to-back hearings on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to boost Trump's candidacy.

 

During a day of sometimes dramatic high-stakes political theatre, the former FBI director answered questions publicly for the first time on his investigation, with Democrats and Republicans taking familiar positions at a time of deep partisan divisions in the United States.

Mueller faced a rapid-fire succession of questions and sometimes struggled with his answers or sidestepped queries in hearings that lasted seven hours from start to finish.

 

The marathon televised hearings apparently left Democrats who control the House of Representatives no closer to launching the impeachment process to try to remove Trump even as he seeks re-election in 2020.

 

Mueller, for his part, refused to discuss the "impeachment issue."

 

"The Democrats had nothing," Trump told reporters outside the White House as he was leaving on a trip to West Virginia. "And now they have less than nothing. And I think they're going to lose the 2020 election very big, including congressional seats, because of the path that they choose."

 

Mueller spent 22 months investigating what he concluded was Russian interference in a "sweeping and systematic fashion" in the 2016 U.S. election to help Trump as well as the president's actions to impede the inquiry.

 

Mueller defended the inquiry's integrity under repeated attacks by Trump's conservative Republican allies during the hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. The president lauded those lawmakers as "incredible warriors."

 

Democrats who wanted Mueller to bolster their case for impeachment or provide game-changing testimony about the president, and Republicans who wanted to show that the investigation was a politically motivated hit job on Trump engineered by his enemies, may have come away frustrated.

 

Mueller, a reluctant witness who appeared only after being subpoenaed, often gave terse responses like "I can't speak to that," "I'm not going to get into that," and "It is beyond my purview," or merely referred lawmakers to the text of his 448-page investigative report.

 

The Judiciary Committee's Democratic chairman, Jerrold Nadler, said Mueller had endured "repeated and grossly unfair personal attacks" and that no one, including Trump, was "above the law." The Intelligence Committee's Democratic chairman, Adam Schiff, accused Trump's 2016 campaign of "disloyalty to country" for inviting, encouraging and making full use of Russian election meddling.

 

Republican lawmakers tried to paint Mueller's investigation as unfair to the president, with Louie Gohmert telling the decorated Vietnam War veteran and longtime federal prosecutor: "You perpetuated injustice," and Guy Reschenthaler calling the manner in which the inquiry was conducted "un-American."

 

When accused by a Republican lawmaker that his investigation tried to make a 'political case' against the president, former special counsel Mueller defended his report saying it was 'thorough, fair, and consistent.' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

In response to Republican Congressman Tom McClintock's accusation that Mueller's report was political, the former special counsel gave a forceful response saying there isn't "a report that is a thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report that we have in front of us."

 

"Welcome, everyone, to the last gasp of the Russian collusion conspiracy theory," said Devin Nunes, the Intelligence Committee's top Republican.

 

Mueller's report, released in redacted form on April 18, did not reach a conclusion on whether Trumpcommitted the crime of obstruction of justice with his actions aimed at undermining the inquiry, but did not exonerate him. The report also said the inquiry found insufficient evidence to establish that Trump and his campaign had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia.

 

Trump has said the Mueller inquiry resulted in the president's "complete and total exoneration."

 

"Did you actually totally exonerate the president?" Nadler asked Mueller during the first hearing.

 

"No," Mueller replied.

 

Mueller testified that his inquiry was conducted in "a fair and independent manner" and that members of the special counsel's team "were of the highest integrity."

 

"I think Robert Mueller did a horrible job, both today and with respect to the investigation," Trump said, adding that as special counsel he "ruined people's lives" and was part of an attempted "illegal overthrow."

 

"There was no defence to this ridiculous hoax, this witch hunt that's been going on for a long time," Trumpadded.

 

Mueller explicitly testified that the investigation was neither a witch hunt nor hoax.

 

MUELLER'S REVERSAL

Mueller caused confusion when he testified while being questioned by Democratic Representative Ted Lieu during the first hearing that he would have sought to indict Trump were it not for a Justice Department policy against bringing criminal charges against a sitting president. But hours later at the outset of the second hearing,Mueller corrected himself.

 

"As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime," Mueller said.

 

Mueller added that a president could be charged with a crime after leaving office.

 

Democrats entered the hearings hoping his testimony would rally public support behind their own investigations of the president and his administration. Democrats are deeply divided over whether to launch the impeachment process set out in the U.S. Constitution for removing a president from office for "high crimes and misdemeanours."

 

Trump has accused Mueller of having conflicts of interest, including saying Mueller wanted the president to appoint him as FBI director after firing James Comey in May 2017. Mueller disputed Trump's account, saying he had not sought the FBI job from Trump. The Justice Department named Mueller as special counsel later that month.

 

Questioned by Democrat Val Demings, Mueller said he "generally" agreed that Trump's written answers to his investigators were not always truthful after the president refused to submit to a face-to-face interview. Muelleralso said his team decided not to exercise its subpoena powers against Trump to force an interview last year because of "the necessity of expediting the end of the investigation."

 

Asked about Trump's past comments praising WikiLeaks - the website that published stolen Democratic emails the inquiry found were hacked by Russians to harm Trump's election opponent Hillary Clinton - Mueller said: "'Problematic' is an understatement."

 

"Let me say one more thing," Mueller said. "Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government's effort to interfere with our election is among the most serious."

 

Mueller said Russians were continuing to interfere in U.S. politics "and they expect to do it during the next campaign."

 

Mueller, 74, was surrounded by news photographers as he took his place in the packed hearing rooms, showing little apparent emotion as he scanned the scene, and sought to avoid getting entangled in confrontations during the questioning. Mueller sometimes gave halting answers, several times asking lawmakers to repeat questions.

 

"That went a little fast for me," Mueller told Doug Collins, the Judiciary Committee's top Republican.

 

"And if I can finish," Mueller told Republican Matt Gaetz after the congressman interrupted him.

 

Democrats gave him great deference even as he stonewalled many of their questions.

 

In a comment disappointing to Republicans, Mueller declined to answer questions about the origins of the Russia probe in the FBI before he was named to take over the inquiry or about a contentious dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent.

 

Mueller's inquiry detailed numerous contacts between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia at a time when the Kremlin was interfering in the 2016 U.S. election with a scheme of hacking and propaganda to sow discord among Americans and boost Trump's candidacy.

 

'NOT EXCULPATED'

Democrats focused on five actions by Trump that Mueller had investigated as potential obstruction of justice, including at one point telling his White House counsel to remove the special counsel.

 

"Obstruction of justice strikes at the core of the government's efforts to find the truth and to hold wrongdoers accountable," Mueller testified.

 

Under questioning by Nadler, Mueller acknowledged that the report detailed "multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian interference and obstruction investigations."

 

"Well, the finding indicates ... that the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed,"Mueller told Nadler.

 

Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, subsequently cleared the president of obstruction of justice after receiving Mueller's report.

 

"Although department policy barred you from indicting the president for this conduct, you made clear that he is not exonerated. Any other person who acted in this way would have been charged with crimes. And in this nation, not even the president is above the law," Nadler told Mueller.

 

Republican Representative Steve Chabot said Wednesday's hearing was the "last, best hope" by Democrats "to build up some sort of groundswell across America to impeach President Trump."

 

Mueller's investigation led to criminal charges against 34 people and three Russian entities. People who were convicted at trial or pleaded guilty included Trump's former campaign chairman, deputy chairman and other aides.

 

(Reporting by David Morgan and Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Sarah N. Lynch, Makini Brice, Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan and Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-07-25
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"I can't speak to that," "I'm not going to get into that," and "It is beyond my purview."

 

Nothing new to see here...if you are in the impeachment camp, you have no new material...there was no evidence of "Trump" collusion with Russia...and not enough evidence to indict on obstruction.

 

This should be the final Democratic theatrical fiasco concerning the Trump campaign and Russia...and actually start to bring about much needed legislation to move the country forward.

 

Those involved in using false information in an attempt to overthrow an elected President should be very afraid...it will soon be your turn to be arrested!   👍

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1 hour ago, webfact said:

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller emphasized on Wednesday he had not exonerated Donald Trump of obstruction of justice, as the president has claimed

 

1 hour ago, webfact said:

And you could say this was a great day for me, but I don't even like to say that,"

 

That's a great day for the presidency?  How about being exonerated from obstruction of justice?  That may be a "great day."  Trump setting the bar lower than I think our Founding Fathers would have preferred. 

 

Trump:  "And you could say this was a great day for me, but I don't even like to say that,"

 

Yeah sure, being humble is far from the first word anyone would use to describe you, especially if you need to announce it.

 

OP:  "Trump told reporters outside the White House as he was leaving on a trip to West Virginia. "And now they have less than nothing. And I think they're going to lose the 2020 election very big,..."  [Bold added.]

 

So this former rich kid couldn't get a grammar teacher?  What a role model, bigly.

I bet the "Prince of Whales" uses better grammar.

 

 

1 hour ago, webfact said:

Trump has said the Mueller inquiry resulted in the president's "complete and total exoneration."

 

"Did you actually totally exonerate the president?" Nadler asked Mueller during the first hearing.

 

"No," Mueller replied.

 

 

But, Trump told a complete and total lie, and as if anyone believes Trump actually read the long Mueller Report.

 

1 hour ago, webfact said:

 

Mueller added that a president could be charged with a crime after leaving office.

So Donald, is that also part of your "great day" for the presidency.  You do know that you are not just running a real estate business?

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I watched the whole thing to me it unfolded exactly as I expected director muller of few words was taciturn factual and honest the dems factual respectfull questioning the republicans trying to spin and launch conspiracy’s so as per muller it’s not a witch hunt can’t indict a sitting potus but game on after 2020 the russans did interfere in our election pretty much what we knew before and a big slap down for Donald’s pet ag

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49 minutes ago, simple1 said:

Keep on lying and misinforming trump, but for the majority your credibility is gone forever.

So you speak for the "majority" ?  ... 

 

 Now time to finally end this farce and get back to the hilarious spectacle of the Dem. primary and the goofy antics of AOC and her "squat". 

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12 minutes ago, Tug said:

I watched the whole thing to me it unfolded exactly as I expected director muller of few words was taciturn factual and honest the dems factual respectfull questioning the republicans trying to spin and launch conspiracy’s so as per muller it’s not a witch hunt can’t indict a sitting potus but game on after 2020 the russans did interfere in our election pretty much what we knew before and a big slap down for Donald’s pet ag

I watched the whole thing too and Mueller seemed old and out of it and confused.  He should have been reading from a prompter.  I still don't know what the Russians did that actually interfered with the election.  Facebook stuff is not interfering - everyone knows that is not a reliable source and if you don't you shouldn't vote.  The Russians got charged with conspiracy to commit computer crimes - not committing crimes but conspiracy to commit.  That means they thought about doing something but didn't.  Big deal ho hum.  

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1 hour ago, webfact said:

Democrats entered the hearings hoping his testimony would rally public support behind their own investigations of the president and his administration. Democrats are deeply divided over whether to launch the impeachment process set out in the U.S. Constitution for removing a president from office for "high crimes and misdemeanours."

 

The would have had more support BEFORE this testimony rather than after that train wreck. 

 

What an embarrassing mis-calculation by Nadler, but Thanks Dems. I seriously doubt we will be hearing anything serious about Impeachment unless its from "The Squad". 

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11 minutes ago, daoyai said:

So you speak for the "majority" ?  ... 

 

 Now time to finally end this farce and get back to the hilarious spectacle of the Dem. primary and the goofy antics of AOC and her "squat". 

Never claimed to do so. However, those who support trump are in the minority. I note the off topic deflection and hateful language. trump supporters, as is trump, truly are the 'deplorables'

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And id just like to point out that 2 YEARS of Trump Russia Narrative was a complete hoax, fabricated and planted by god-knows-who, and how the left is NOW rallying around "Obstruction of Justice" - a complete 180 from the investigations original objective and none of the never-trumpers even batted an eye at how absolutely ridiculous that is, nor how ridiculous it makes them look. 

 

This sham has all along been a partisan manipulation and partisan attack from the left. 

 

Id also like to point out that apparently there is also an investigation going on by Barr to find out how this all happened. 

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1 minute ago, simple1 said:

Never claimed to do so. However, those who support trump are in the minority. I note the off topic deflection and hateful language. trump supporters, as is trump, truly are the 'deplorables'

I would imagine Trump is supported more than anyone else.  If the question is do you support Trump yes or no the no's probably win.  If it's do you support Trump or Omar Trump wins.  

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This kind of stuff is all over social media:

 

Quote

'Bob Mueller is struggling': The Democrats don't get their Trump gotcha moment

 

Analysis: Rather than a threat to Trump, Mueller emerged into public view as a 74-year-old whose demeanor and command of the facts raised questions.

 

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/bob-mueller-struggling-democrats-don-t-get-their-trump-gotcha-n1034146?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_ma

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