Robert Mueller defended his investigation on Wednesday and pushed back against President Donald Trump’s Twitter mantra when he directly said that his investigation was “not a witch hunt.
It’s not a witch hunt,” Mueller said when asked about Trump’s criticism.
Hexenjagd” is the president’s favorite name for Müller’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 elections and whether he obstructed the judiciary. Trump often tweets the term and throws it out at campaign events when he turns against it.
He used it on Wednesday morning just before Müller began his testimony day on Capitol Hill.
“By far the biggest witch hunt in the history of the USA! Trump tweeted.
Mueller also said that it was not a “swindle” that Russia interfered in the last presidential elections.
When the president said that Russian interference was a fraud, it was wrong, wasn’t it,” Adam Schiff, chairman of the news committee, asked.
“True,” Mueller said.
The special adviser, however, refused to discuss possible business relations on which the Trump Organization was working in Russia and said: “I will not go into the details of the report in this direction.
Schiff asked him: “In short, your investigation found evidence that Russia wanted to help Trump win the election, right?
In general, I think that would be right,” Müller replied.
The exchange marked Müller’s first public defense of his work after Trump insulted him and his team during their 22-month investigation.
Early in the day, Müller defended his team, who accused Trump of being Hillary Clinton’s advocate.
Can I talk to the hiring practices? We were anxious to hire the people who could do the job. I’ve been in this business for 25 years. I haven’t had a chance to ask anyone about their political affiliation. It did not happen. I am interested in the ability of the individuals who do the work and do the work quickly and seriously and with completeness,” Müller said as he testified before the House Justice Committee.
Mueller also said he feared a “new normality” in which future campaigns would have to look for foreign interference and report it to the federal authorities.
I ask if you share my concerns,” said democratic representative Peter Welch. Have we established a new normality from this past campaign that will apply to future campaigns?
I hope it’s not the new norm, but I’m afraid it is,” Müller replied.
The special adviser also said that Russia was still interfering in the US elections.
It was not a single attempt. They do it while we sit here. And they expect to do it in the next campaign,” he said.
Müller’s words of warning about the 2020 Contest came after turning Wednesday’s highly anticipated congressional hearing into a slumbering disappointment for Democrats by lumbering and wheezing questions and leafing through his own report to follow his inquisitors.
The special adviser spent nearly five hours testifying before two Congressional committees – first the House Judiciary Committee and then the House Intelligence Committee.
At one point, Mueller couldn’t remember it being President Ronald Reagan who appointed him his first federal prosecutor, saying he wasn’t at all “familiar” with Fusion GPS. This company, with a lucrative contract paid for by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, paid a former spy to collect dirt on Donald Trump, resulting in a “dirty dossier” full of unproven and lascivious rumors about the future president.
The dossier was later used to justify monitoring a foreign policy advisor of Trump by launching a large part of the expanded Russia probe that Mueller led for 22 months.
Müller answered a long list of questions with complaints that the subjects were “not in my area” and evaded them more than 100 times.
David Axelrod, a former Barack Obama strategist, twittered that the hearing was “very, very painful”. Laurence Tribe, the famous liberal lawyer, wrote that Müller was not up to the challenge of “breathing life into his devastating report”.
When Mueller finally sat down to give his high-level testimony before the House’s Judges Committee on Wednesday, he immediately contradicted President Trump’s claim that the Russian inquiry exonerated him.
During a legislative barbecue that was to last through the day, the tight-lipped former FBI chief who headed the Russia probe provided a series of sharp answers – repeating the main conclusions of his report, even as he tried to avoid new information about internal considerations of his nearly two-year investigation.
House Justice Chairman Jerold Nadler, who interviewed Mueller for the first time since his report was published in March, asked him: “Director Mueller, the President has repeatedly claimed that your report did not reveal any obstruction and that he fully and completely exonerated him. But that is not what your report says, is it?