Robert Mueller testifies

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner and Amanda Wills, CNN

Updated 11:29 a.m. ET, July 25, 2019
43 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:02 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller (again) says a US president can be charged after leaving office

From CNN's Fadel Allassan and Aishvarya Kavi

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in exchange with Republican Rep. Ken Buck, again said a president can be charged with obstruction of justice after they have left office. 

Here's the exchange:

Buck: "Could you charge the President with a crime after he left office?"

Mueller: "Yes."

Buck: "You believe that he committed — you could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?"

Mueller: "Yes."

Buck: "Ethically? Under the ethical standards?"

Mueller: "I'm not certain because I haven't looked at the ethics standards but the OLC opinion says that the prosecutor, while he cannot bring a charge against a sitting president, nonetheless he can continue the investigation to see if there are other persons drawn into the conspiracy."

This isn't the first time Mueller has said this today. Earlier, while answering questions from committee chair Jerry Nadler, Mueller citied Justice Department rules that he could not prosecute a sitting president — and then suggested that it's possible Trump can be charged after leaving the White House.

Mueller did not, however, say if Trump should be charged.

11:04 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller confirms President asked staff to falsify records related to investigation

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

Robert Mueller confirmed that President Trump asked staff to falsify records relevant to the ongoing investigation.

The issue came up during a line of questioning by Democratic Republican Rep. Cedric Richmond.

Here is that exchange:

Richmond: So it's fair to say the President tried to protect himself by asking staff to falsify records relevant to an ongoing investigation?

Mueller: I would say that's generally a summary.

Richmond: Would you say that that action the President tried to hamper the investigation by asking staff to falsify records relevant to your investigation? 

Mueller: I am just going to have to refer you to the report if I could for the review of that episode.

Richmond: Thank you. Also the President's attempt to get McGahn to create a false written record were related to Mr. Trump's concerns were related to President Trump's concerns about your obstruction of justice inquiry, correct?

Mueller: I believe that to be true.

10:53 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller grew tense in an exchange with this Republican congressman

From CNN's David Shortell

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

There was tension in an exchange between Robert Mueller and Rep. Matt Gaetz, who had ripped the former special counsel for not reviewing the motivations and sourcing behind the dossier built by Christopher Steele.

“You weren’t interested in whether or not Russians were interfering through Christopher Steele, and if Steele was lying, then you should have charged him with lying, like you charged a variety of other people, but you say nothing about this in your report. Meanwhile, director, you’re quite loquacious on other topics,” said Gaetz, a Florida Republican who has previously caught the President’s eye for his combative style.

Mueller tried unsuccessfully to interject and later raised his voice slightly when responding to prevent another interruption from the congressman.

“What I take is missing here is the fact that this is under investigation elsewhere in the Justice Department and if I can finish sir — and if I can finish sir — and consequently it’s not within my purview. The Department of Justice and FBI should be responsive to questions on this particular issue,” Mueller said.

10:49 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Here's why Jim Jordan questioned Mueller on why some people were charged and others weren't

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan grilled Robert Mueller on why he charged some people, but not others.

Jordan specifically referred Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese academic suspected of being a link between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. 

"This is the guy who told Papadopoulos he's the guy who starts it all," Jordan told Mueller. "And when the FBI interviews him, he lies three times and yet you don't charge him with a crime."

Jordan went on to list all the people who Mueller charged for lying to the FBI.

He then asked: "You charge Michael Flynn, a three-star general, with false statements but the guy who puts the country through this whole saga, starts it off, for three years we have lived this now, he lies and you guys don't charge him. And I'm curious as to why."

Mueller responded, saying “it’s obvious” he can’t get into charging decisions.

In a tense exchange, Jordan questioned Mueller on Mifsud, but Mueller repeatedly answered that "I can't get into that."

"A lot of things you can't get into," Jordan said. "What’s interesting, you can charge 13 Russians no one's ever heard of, no one’s ever seen. No one is ever going to hear of them. No one’s ever going to see them, you can charge them. You can charge all kinds of people who are around the president with false statements. But the guy who launches everything, the guy who puts this whole story in motion, you can't charge him. I think that's amazing."

But Mueller didn't agree.

"I'm not certain -- I'm not certain I agree with your characterizations," he said.

All charges Mueller brought were signed off by then-deputy assistant Rod Rosenstein, who was overseeing the investigation

10:46 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Why Mueller is keeping it dry

From CNN's Evan Perez and Jeremy Herb

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Robert Mueller is trying to be careful and keeping his answers as close to the report as possible, according to two sources who are close to him.

Some of the questioners are using rapid-fire or long-winded questions to try to have him depart from the report’s language.

Republicans in particular have used their time to try to impeach the witness.

The Mueller style to try to keep it dry and not provide fodder for the ongoing political fights doesn’t do well in this kind of hearing.

A congressional source involved in negotiations surrounding Mueller’s appearance says that Mueller’s team told the committees that he would decline to read from his report during the hearing.

10:45 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller says Rep. Jeffries' analysis of obstruction is "not out of the ballpark"

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

During his questioning of Robert Mueller, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, outlined why he believed the President had committed obstruction of justice:

"The investigation found substantial evidence that when the President ordered Don McGahn to fire the special counsel and then lie about it, Donald Trump, one, committed an obstructive act. Two, connected to the initial proceeding. Three, did so with corrupt intent. Those are the elements of obstruction of justice," he said.

Jeffries added: "This is the United States of America. No one is above the law. No one. The President must be held accountable one way or the other."

Mueller responded that he was "not supportive" of Jeffries' analysis, but said it's not "out of the ballpark."

"Let me just say, if I might, I don't subscribe necessarily to your -- to the way you analyze that. I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark, but I'm not supportive of that analytical charge."

10:32 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

So far, Mueller has told Congress to refer to his report 28 times

From CNN's Sam Fossum and Tara Subramaniam

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Before he began taking questions, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller said that his testimony would "be limited" and he promised to stick to the text of his report.

He seems to be sticking to that promise.

Mueller so far has told members of Congress to refer to the report in answering questions at least 28 times.

He has also deflected or declined to answer at least three additional times, saying he would have to check on that or look more closely at the statute.

10:22 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller has 1.5 hours left and then another committee will question him

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

We just returned from a five-minute break. But Robert Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee is not over just yet.

He has about another hour and a half left.

After Mueller wraps up his testimony, the House Intelligence Committee will question him at noon.

10:22 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Rep. Louie Gohmert tells Mueller: "You perpetuated injustice"

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Robert Mueller declined to engage with the Republican lawmaker who launched one of the most personal attacks at the special counsel at the hearing so far:

"And if somebody knows they did not conspire with anybody from Russia to affect the election and they see the big justice department with people that hate that person coming after him and then a special counsel appointed who hires a dozen or more people that hate that person and he knows he's innocent, he's not corruptly acting in order to see that justice is done. What he's doing is not obstructing justice. He is pursuing justice. And the fact that you ran it out (GAVEL) ... two years means you perpetuated injustice."

After Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican accusing Mueller of having “perpetuated injustice” by running his investigation for two years, Chairman Jerry Nadler gave Mueller a chance to respond.

But Mueller deferred.

“I take your question,” he said, instead just moving onto the next lawmaker.