Round one of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony is complete, and by many accounts it was an unmitigated disaster. In addition to contradicting himself, Mueller appeared to be unfamiliar with his own report throughout the entire round of questioning.
In short, Mueller didn’t just appear not to know his own report – he came off as incompetent.
.@RepGregSteube: Given your 22 months of investigation, millions of dollars spent and millions of documents, did you find that any American changed their vote because of Russian interference?#Mueller: That was outside our purview.
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) July 24, 2019
Q: When did you become aware that the unverified Steele dossier was included in the FISA applications on Carter Page?
Mueller: I’m not going to speak to that.
Q: Your team interviewed Christopher Steele, is that correct?
Mueller: I’m not going to get into that.
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) July 24, 2019
At one point Mueller couldn’t remember which president appointed him:
Stanton: which Pres appointed you?
Mueller: which Senator?
Stanton: which President?
Mueller: oh which President (laughs) I think that was Pres Bush
Stanton: according to my notes that was President Reagan
Mueller: oh my mistake
— Matt Batzel (@MattBatzel) July 24, 2019
Funny, Muelller can’t understand the Republicans but he can totally understand the Democrats questions. This is a disaster for dems.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 24, 2019
I asked Rep. Matt Gaetz how he thinks the hearing is going. He texted, "For Democrats?" and sent a gif of a mushroom cloud
— Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets) July 24, 2019
Former Sen. @clairecmc:
Mueller was not a very good witness, Democrats may be disappointed in this morning’s testimony.
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) July 24, 2019
Pretty bad optics for Mueller as several aides point at once to help him find the member who has been recognized to question him. Has happened several times now. Makes him look lost https://t.co/SOagb2yZVA
— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) July 24, 2019
Mueller will appear next before the House Intelligence Committee. Get the popcorn…
Update: After a mostly milquetoast morning of questions that Mueller could barely answer, Rep. Jim Jordan provided perhaps the most noteworthy exchange of the morning with Mueller – zeroing in on why the special counsel’s office did not charge professor Joseph Mifsud – who planted the entire ‘Russian dirt’ rumor with Trump aide George Papadopoulos, subsequently kicking off the entire FBI investigation.
It's obvious that Mueller had very little to do with the report, so Trump's claims a bunch of crazed partisans conducted a witch hunt certainly seems more plausible.
— Snitty Lizzy (@StarChamberMaid) July 24, 2019
Jim Jordan let Mueller off easy. When asked about Joseph Mifsud, Mueller said it was outside his perview, yet his own report discussed Mifsud, specifically Mifsud’s conversation w Papadopoulos. It was clear that Mueller doesn’t know what his own report says.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) July 24, 2019
Media portrayal of Mueller: sterling, heroic, supremely competent pursuer of truth
Actual performance of Mueller: bumbling, shaky, can't recall key facts
Now we know why he hid from the public for 2+ years
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 24, 2019
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller is testifying before two Congressional committees today, offering his first public testimony since submitting his 448-page report on the 2016 US election. Testimony is scheduled to begin in the House Judiciary Committee at 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., followed by the smaller House Intelligence Committee from noon to 2 p.m.
Mueller is expected follow guidance from the Justice Department and stick to the ‘four corners’ of his report, and he has made clear that he won’t answer hypothetical questions. That said, as a private citizen there is nothing stopping Mueller from answering questions outside the report.
In an 11th hour arrangement, Mueller will be joined by his chief-of-staff, Aaron Zebley.
Rumor is that Aaron Zebley (Mueller’s Chief of Staff) will be on the witness panel with Mueller.
You don’t get to change the rules right before kickoff, especially after a 22 month, $30 million investigation.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) July 23, 2019
What to watch for
House Democrats – looking for anything they can use to launch an impeachment, will undoubtedly focus on having Mueller refute President Trump’s oft-repeated “no collusion, no obstruction” claim. While the Mueller report did not find evidence of collusion, he left the question of obstruction to Attorney General William Barr and former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein – who found no collusion.
The Mueller report contains at least 10 alleged acts by Trump that could constitute obstruction of his investigation, which Democrats will likely push for him to elaborate on.
Mueller may provide fresh momentum for congressional Democrats to open proceedings to impeach the president. Impeachment is an option that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has resisted so far because of her belief it would prove futile, and politically damaging to her party, unless dramatic new evidence emerges that would lead to Trump’s removal from office by the Republican-controlled Senate. –Bloomberg
Republicans, meanwhile, will likely focus on the origins of the Russia investigation – as well as the anti-Trump text messages exchanged between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were key investigators of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. GOP House members will also likely ask about the so-called Steele dossier which contains salacious and unverified allegations about President Trump and his aides.
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