Everything That Happened at Robert Mueller's Hearings

Robert Mueller
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Here are the highlights from former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning about his investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election:

3:26 pm EST: Schiff gave his closing statement. Mueller and Zebley were excused.

3:21 pm EST: The final questions are asked by Adam Schiff. He began by asking, "From your testimony today, I gather that you believe that knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do?"

"And a crime given certain circumstances," Mueller replies.

3:14 pm EST: Val Demings, Democratic Representative from Florida concluded her questioning by saying, "It's one thing for the President to lie to the American people about your investigation, falsely claiming that you found no collusion and no obstruction, but it's something else altogether for him to get away with not answering your questions and lying about them. As a former law enforcement officer of almost 30 years, I find that a disgrace to our criminal justice system."

3:07 pm EST: Mueller was then questioned by New York Democratic Representative Sean Patrick Maloney. Maloney asked, "Did you have sufficient evidence of the President's intent to obstruct justice? And is that why you didn't do the [in-person] interview?"

Mueller responded, "There's a balance. In other words, how much evidence you have does satisfy the last element against how much time are you willing to spend in the courts litigating the interview of the President."

"And in this case you felt that you had enough evidence of the President's intent?," Maloney asked.

Mueller began, "We had to make a balanced decision in terms of how much evidence we had compared to the length of time it would take to -- "

"You thought that if you gave it to the Attorney General or this Congress, that there was sufficient evidence or that it was better than the delay?," Maloney asked.

"No. The reason we didn't do the interview was because of the length of time it would take to resolve the issues attended to that," Mueller responded.

2:53 pm EST: Washington Democratic Representative Denny Heck began to question Mueller.

"Others in the Trump orbit all tried to use their connections with the Trump organization to profit from Russia, which was openly seeking relief from sanctions. Is that true, sir?," Heck asked.

"I'm not sure I can adopt what you're saying," Mueller retorted.

"I will, and I will further assert that was not only dangerous, it was un-American. Greed corrupts. Greed corrupts, and it is a terrible foundation for developing American foreign policy," Heck concluded.

2:40 pm EST: Mueller was asked by Texas Republican Representative Will Hurd, "In your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election or did you find evidence to suggest they would try to do this again?"

"Oh, it wasn't a single attempt," Mueller said. "They're doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign."

2:28 pm EST: Mueller took his seat again and California Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell began questioning Mueller.

2:15 pm EST: Schiff called a short recess.

2:07 pm EST: Illinois Democratic Representative Mike Quigley revealed to Mueller a series of tweets in which the President expressed his love for WikiLeaks.

"Do any of those quotes disturb you, Mr. Director?," Quigley asked.

"Well, it's problematic is an understatement in terms of what it displays, in terms of giving some, I don't know, hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity," Mueller said.

2:03 pm EST: Utah Republican Representative Chris Stewart asked Mueller, "Mr. Mueller, you sent a letter dated March 27th to Attorney General Barr in which you claim the Attorney General's memo to Congress did not fully capture the context of your report. You stated earlier today that response was not authorized. Did you make any effort to determine who leaked this confidential letter?"

"I'm not certain when it was publicized. I do know it was publicized. But I do not believe we would be responsible for the leaks. I do believe we have done a good job in assuring that no leaks occur," Mueller rebutted.

"We have 25 examples here of you did not do a good job," Stewart responded.

1:55 pm EST: California Democratic Representative Jackie Speier began questioning Mueller and called to question the Russian influence on social media. "Would you agree that it was not a hoax that the Russians were engaged in trying to impact our election?," Speier asked.

"Absolutely. That was not a hoax. The indictments we returned against the Russians, two different ones, were substantial in their scope. We have underplayed that aspect of our investigation that has and would have longterm damage to the United States that we need to move quickly to address," Mueller responded.

1:41 pm EST: Republican Representative Michael Turner of Ohio brought out the Constitution as well as various legal references to make a point that processes for
"exoneration" don't exist in them.

When asked to comment on this, Mueller declined to answer.

Turner went on to say that, "No one in the government has the power [to exonerate]." He continued, "The statement about exoneration is misleading...It's a meaningless word that has no legal meaning."

1:26 pm EST: Mueller was asked by Texas Republican Representative John Ratcliffe about a discrepancy between his morning testimony and writings in the Mueller Report in regards to choosing not to indict the President.

"I want to be clear it is not your intent to change the written report, and it is your intent to clarify the record," Ratcliffe said.

"As I started today this afternoon...what I wanted to clarify is that we did not make any determination in any regard to culpability in any way. We did not start that process down the road," Mueller responded.

1:19 pm EST: Ranking Member Nunes began his questioning.

1:14 pm EST: Mueller began testifying to questions asked by Chairman Adam Schiff.

Schiff asked Mueller, "Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?"

Mueller responded, "It is not a witch hunt."

1:10 pm EST: Mueller began his opening statement. "I am not making any judgments or offering opinions about the guilt or innocence in any pending case," Mueller reveals.

Mueller made a comment correcting a response he gave to Representative Lieu in the morning hearing. The question regarded whether Mueller chose not to indict the President based on OLC opinion. "We did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime," Mueller said.

1:09 pm EST: Ranking Member Devin Nunes revealed that there are no plans to direct questions to Zebley at this hearing.

1:08 pm EST: Mueller and Aaron Zebley were sworn in and are now under oath for their testimonies.

12:51 pm EST: Mueller enters the House Intelligence Committee hearing room.

12:10 pm EST: Jerrold Nadler dismisses Mueller from the Judiciary hearing room.

12:06 pm EST: Florida Democratic Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell asked, "When the American people are deciding whether the President committed obstruction of justice, they need to look at all of the President's conduct and overall pattern of behavior. Is that correct?"

"I don't disagree," Mueller responds.

11:57 am EST: Democratic Representative Greg Stanton of Arizona began questioning.

Mueller clarifies to Stanton, "If I might just interject - the capabilities that we have shown in the report that's been discussed here today was the result of a team of agents and lawyers who are absolutely exemplary and were hired because of the value they could contribute to getting the job done and getting it done expeditiously."

11:51 am EST: Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana began questioning as the final Republican congressman to question during this portion of the testimony.

"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," Johnson concluded.

11:41 am EST: Texas Democratic Representative Sylvia Garcia began her questioning by asking Mueller, "If I had made a false statement to an investigator on your team?"

"Yes," Mueller responded. "Although, it's Congress, so...," he continued to the laughter of the room.

11:17 am EST: Pennsylvania Republican Representative Guy Reschenthaler concluded his questioning by saying, "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."

11:12 am EST: Washington Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal conluded her questioning with a quote from the Mueller Report. "Evidence concerning the President's conduct towards [Paul] Manafort indicates that the President intended to encourage Manafort to not cooperate with the government."

She continued, "It is clear that the President both publicly and privately discouraged Mr. Manafort's cooperation or flipping while also dangling the promise of a pardon if he stayed loyal and did not share what he knew about the President. Anyone else who did these things would be prosecuted for them."

11:05 am EST: Questioning began by Arizona Republican Representative Debbie Lesko, during which she asked, "Were you ever fired as special counsel, Mr. Mueller?"

"No," Mueller responded.

"Were you allowed to complete your investigation unencumbered?," Lesko asked.

"Yes," Mueller responded.

10:53 am EST: California Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell passed questioning along to fellow California Democratic Representative Ted Lieu.

After reviewing the facts surrounding the President's conversations with White House Counsel Don McGahn per the Mueller Report, Lieu stated, "I believe a reasonable person looking at these facts could conclude that all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice have been met, and I'd like to ask you the reason again that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, is that correct?"

Mueller responded, "That is correct."

10:47 am EST: Arizona Republican Representative Andy Biggs began questioning Mueller on his meetings with former United States Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

10:38 am EST: Colorado Republican Representative Ken Buck suggested that Mueller "threw a bunch of stuff against the wall" in regards to the investigation of obstruction of justice. Mueller rebutted, "What we did was provide to the Attorney General in the form of a confidential memorandum our understanding of the case."

10:33 am EST: Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York concluded questioning with a sentiment that many Democratic representatives have shared, "No one is above the law."

10:18 am EST: The House Judiciary Committee returned from a five-minute break with an hour and a half left of questioning.

10:00 am EST: Republican Ohio Representative Jim Jordan began questioning Mueller on how he decides to charge people for false statements. Using quotes from the report, Jordan revealed that George Papadopoulos, a former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, had given false statements and never been charged.

"The guy who puts the country through this whole saga...he lies, and you don't charge him," Jordan says. Mueller refuses to comment.

9:45 am EST: Questioning began by Florida Democratic Representative Ted Deutch. Deutch asks Mueller, "Why? Why did the President want you fired?"

Mueller revealed he can't answer the question, and Deutch continued, saying the Report suggests that Trump moved forward with trying to fire Mueller because he learned of the investigation of obstruction of justice.

"No president should be able to escape investigation by abusing his power," Deutch concludes.

9:40 am EST: Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert began questioning Mueller, adamantly reiterating that Mueller found insufficient evidence to indict the President.

When asked by Gohmert about the nature of his relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, Mueller responded that they were "business associates" and "friends."

"You perpetuated injustice," Gohmert said to Mueller.

9:24 am EST: Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen began questioning starting off with direct quotes from President Trump and concluding with Attorney General Jeff Sessions' part in the obstruction of justice.

Mueller reveals he knows of two instances in which the President asked Sessions to un-recuse himself.

"It's clear from your report and the evidence that the president wanted former Attorney General Sessions to violate the justice department ethics rules by taking over your investigation and improperly interfering with it to protect himself and his campaign," Cohen concluded.

9:18 am EST: Questioning began by Representative James Sensenbrenner.

"If you're not going to indict the president, you just continue fishing. Sure, you can indict other people, but you can't indict the sitting president, right?," Sensenbrenner asked.

"That's true," Mueller replied.

8:58 am EST: Representative Doug Collins began questioning Mueller followed with questioning by Representatve Zoe Lofgren and Representative John Ratcliffe.

Collins concluded his questioning by asking Mueller if "collusion" is synonymous with "conspiracy," to which Mueller responded, "No."

However, page 180 of volume one of the Mueller report reads, "Collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the U.S. Code; nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. To the contrary, even as defined in legal dictionaries, collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in the general federal conspiracy statute."

8:52 am EST: House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler begins questioning of Robert Mueller.

Mueller reiterated that he would remain within the parameters of the language used in the Mueller report.

Nadler asks, "Is it true you tried for more than a year to secure an interview with the President?" Mueller responds, "Yes."

8:43 am EST: Mueller began a five-minute summary of his testimony on Capitol Hill. He reveals that he and his team conducted a thorough investigation to reveal behind-the-scenes ongoings of the 2016 election. "All decisions were made based on the facts and the law," he said.

"Our investigation found that the Russian government interfered in our election in sweeping and systematic fashion," he continues ."The report is our testimony, and I will stay within that text."

8:00 am EST: Former special counsel Robert Mueller arrived on Capitol Hill this morning to testify for the first time today about his investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller will testify to Congress, answering questions about the investigation, bringing it back into the public eye.

The Justice Department instructed Mueller not to stray past his report's findings. Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer said in a letter sent to Mueller that he should not speak about redacted material from his report, including material pertaining to pending criminal prosecutions, "uncharged third-parties" and "executive privilege," such as "presidential communications privileges," according to the Associated Press.

Mueller also reiterated through a spokesman that he plans to stay within the bounds of the 448-page report.