- The former special counsel Robert Mueller frustrated both Democrats and Republicans when he testified this week before two congressional committees about the Russia investigation.
- The notoriously tight-lipped former FBI director repeatedly refused to answer questions, or even recite portions from his final report, and instead had one message for lawmakers and the public: read the report yourself.
- But there were still a few significant takeaways from Mueller’s historic testimony.
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The former special counsel Robert Mueller took center stage this week when he testified before two congressional panels in back-to-back hearings.
The first hearing, before the House Judiciary Committee, focused on Mueller’s findings in his obstruction-of-justice investigation into President Donald Trump.
The second, before the House Intelligence Committee, centered around Mueller’s original mandate: Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with Moscow to meddle in the race.
Congressional Democrats went into the marathon hearings hoping to have the man behind the Mueller report bring the document to life for the majority of Americans who haven’t yet read it. But they likely came away disappointed, because the notoriously tight-lipped former FBI director had one message for lawmakers and the public: read the report yourself.
Still, there were a few significant takeaways from Mueller’s testimony.
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President Donald Trump was ‘generally’ not truthful in his written responses to questions from prosecutors.
In an exchange with Democratic Rep. Val Demings on the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller suggested the president misled investigators in his written responses to questions.
"Isn’t it fair to say [Trump’s] written answers were not only inadequate and incomplete because he didn’t answer many of your questions, but where he did, his answers show that he wasn’t always being truthful?" Demings asked.
"Generally," Mueller responded.
Mueller: We should ‘absolutely’ hold elected officials to a higher standard than just avoiding criminality.
Toward the end of the marathon hearings, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff asked the former special counsel a pointed question: "We should hold our elected officials to a standard higher than mere avoidance of criminality, correct?"
"Absolutely," Mueller replied.
The answer was a rare, if indirect, rebuke from Mueller of Trump and his supporters’ frequent claim that "collusion is not a crime."
Mueller excoriated Trump for promoting WikiLeaks during the 2016 election.
AP Photo/Steve Helber
In one of his sharpest public critiques of the president to date, Mueller tore into Trump for his effusive praise of WikiLeaks.
At the second hearing, which took place before the intelligence panel, Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley repeated statements Trump made heaping praise on WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign.
"I love WikiLeaks," he said at one campaign rally shortly before the election.
"This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove," he said at another. And at a campaign event on October 31, 2016, he said, "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks."
"Would any of those quotes disturb you, Mr. Director?" Quigley asked Mueller. "How do you react to them?"
"Well," Mueller said, "problematic is an understatement in terms of what it displays in terms of giving some hope, or some boost, to what is and should be illegal activity."
- Mueller’s high stakes congressional hearings went about as badly as they could have for Democrats
- ‘Problematic is an understatement’: Mueller excoriates Trump for praising WikiLeaks during the 2016 election
- Read Robert Mueller’s opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee