Robert Mueller testifies
Rep. John Ratcliffe, who just used his five minutes to argue that President Trump was held to a different standard than anyone else would be, has been under consideration for a job in the administration, sources say, including an intelligence or national security role.
Ratcliffe speaks with the President often, and Trump is a big fan of his.
He argued Wednesday morning that Trump "shouldn’t be below the law.”
Watch Ratcliffe's full questioning:
After citing Justice Department rules that he could not prosecute a sitting president, Mueller suggested that it's possible Trump can be charged after leaving the White House.
Here's the exchange between committee chairman Jerry Nadler and Mueller:
Nadler: "Is it correct that if you had concluded that the President committed the crime of obstruction, you could not publicly state that in your report or here today?"
Mueller: "The statement would be that you would not indict, and you would not indict because under the OLC opinion, excuse me, a sitting president cannot be indicted, it would be unconstitutional."
Nadler: "Under Department of Justice policy, the President could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice crimes after he leaves office, correct?"
Note: Mueller did not, however, say if Trump should be prosecuted
The Russian government wanted President Trump to win the 2016 presidential election, former special counsel Robert Mueller testified today.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California, asked Mueller if his investigation found that "the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning."
Mueller said they did.
She continued: "And which candidate would that be?"
Mueller responded: "Well, it would be Trump."
Rep. Doug Collins tried to get Mueller to contradict his report by asking him whether "collusion" and "conspiracy" are the same thing. Mueller testified that they weren’t the same, but Collins cited a part of the report that he thought was contradictory.
On page 180 of volume one, the Mueller report said: "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."
This part of the report was talking about collusion in the sense of corporate collusion, which is when companies conspire in an illegal fashion to help each other and hurt consumers.
That is completely unrelated to “collusion with Russia,” which has been the colloquial term used over the past few years to discuss potential cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler just asked Robert Mueller a series of questions about the special counsel's attempts to get an interview with President Trump.
Mueller said it was "true" that Trump refused to sit for an interview, despite his team's multiple attempts to secure the interview.
Here's the full exchange:
Nadler: Did the President refuse a request to be interviewed by you and your team?
Nadler: And Is it true you tried for more than a year to secure an interview with the President?
Nadler: And is it true that you and your team advised the President's lawyer that, quote, an interview with the President is vital to our investigation, closed quote?
Nadler: And is it true you also, quote, stated that it is the interest of the Presidency and public for an interview to take place, closed quote?
Nadler: But the President still refused to sit for on interview by you and your team?
Former special counsel Robert Mueller confirmed today that he did not exonerate President Trump in his investigation.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler questioned Mueller on whether he had cleared Trump.
Here's the exchange:
Nadler: Director Mueller, the President has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him. But that is not what your report said, is it?
Mueller: Correct, that is not what the report said.
Nadler: And from reading from page 2 of volume 2 of your report that's on the screen you wrote, 'If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.' Now, does that say there was no obstruction?
Nadler: In fact, you are actually unable to conclude the President did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct?
Mueller: Well, we at the outset determined that we -- when it came to the President's culpability we needed to -- we needed to go forward only after taking into account the OLC opinion that indicated that a president -- a sitting president cannot be indicted.
Nadler: So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice? Is that correct?
Mueller: That is correct.
Nadler: And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the President?
Nadler: Now, in fact your report expressly states it does not exonerate the President?
Mueller: It does.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller said his testimony today will "necessarily be limited." In his opening statement, he outlined two reasons for that:
- "First, public testimony could affect several ongoing matters. In some of these matters, court rules or judicial orders limit the disclosure of information to protect the fairness of the proceedings. And consistent with longstanding Justice Department policy, it would be inappropriate for me to comment in any way that could affect an ongoing matter."
- "Second, the Justice Department has asserted privileges concerning investigative information and decisions, ongoing matters within the Justice Department, and deliberations within our office. These are Justice Department privileges that I will respect. The Department has released the letter discussing the restrictions on my testimony."
Mueller said he "will not be able to answer questions about certain areas that I know are of public interest." That includes questions about the opening of the FBI’s Russia investigation and "matters related to the so-called 'Steele Dossier.'"
"These matters are the subject of ongoing review by the Department. Any questions on these topics should therefore be directed to the FBI or the Justice Department," he said.
"I do not intend to summarize or describe the results of our work in a different way in the course of my testimony today. As I said on May 29: the report is my testimony. And I will stay within that text," he said.
Robert Mueller opened his testimony by going over his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
He said his investigation found that the "Russian government interfered in our election in sweeping and systematic fashion."
"Second, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its election interference activities. We did not address 'collusion,' which is not a legal term. Rather, we focused on whether the evidence was sufficient to charge any member of the campaign with taking part in a criminal conspiracy. It was not.
Third, our investigation of efforts to obstruct the investigation and lie to investigators was of critical importance. Obstruction of justice strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and to hold wrongdoers accountable."
Listen to Mueller's full opening statement:
Former special counsel Robert Mueller was just sworn into the House Judiciary Committee.
Lawmakers are expected to grill Mueller for three hours. Each members gets about five minutes to question Mueller.
He'll testify publicly again at noon ET before the House Intelligence Committee.