NEWS
25/07/2019 9:32 AM IST

The Many Times Robert Mueller Contradicted Trump Before US Congress

The former special counsel testified before two House committees on Wednesday about what his report actually said.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller repeatedly contradicted past statements by President Donald Trump during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

Mueller was there to answer lawmakers’ questions about his report, a redacted version of which was released to the public in April.

Here are the key times when his comments contradicted statements that Trump has made about the report and the topics it addressed:

The Russia probe wasn’t a “witch hunt.”

Trump and his allies have repeatedly referred to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as a “witch hunt.” Mueller on Wednesday flatly denied that characterization.

“It is not a witch hunt,” Mueller said of his investigation.

Russian election interference was not a “hoax.”

The president has said he believes the notion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election is “all a big hoax.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) asked Mueller if he would “agree that it was not a hoax that the Russians were engaged in trying to impact our election.”

“Absolutely, it was not a hoax,” Mueller said. 

Russia meddled in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign was happy with it.

Trump has made an arrayof shifting statements over the years on whether Russia interfered in the last presidential election at all and, if it did, the extent to which it intended to promote his campaign. The president has on at least a few occasions claimed that Russia wanted Hillary Clinton to win, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct statements to the contrary.

Mueller on Wednesday confirmed ― in a point-by-point exchange with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) ― that Russia indeed meddled in the 2016 election and that the Trump campaign appeared to welcome it.

The Mueller report did not find “no obstruction.”

The former special counsel contradicted Trump’s oft-repeated mantra of “no obstruction,” by which the president implied that the Mueller report had proved he never obstructed justice.

Mueller actually found 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice committed by the president, but he did not make a determination on whether to indict Trump.

In a leading question on Wednesday, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) asked Mueller: “The report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice, correct?”

“Correct,” Mueller said.

The former special counsel also said Trump could, in theory, be charged with obstruction of justice after he departs the White House.

“You could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) asked.

“Yes,” Mueller responded.

The Mueller report didn’t give Trump “total exoneration.”

Trump and his allies have also repeatedly claimed that the report constituted “total exoneration” of the president and his administration.

Nadler on Wednesday asked directly whether the report totally exonerated the president. 

“No,” Mueller said. “It is not what the report said.”

Trump’s answers to written questions from Mueller’s team were “generally” untruthful.

Lawyers for the president said in November 2018 that they had provided the special counsel’s office with written responses to its questions. Attorney General William Barr in April of this year claimed that Trump and his administration had “fully cooperated” with Mueller’s investigation.

But on Wednesday, Mueller said the answers that Trump provided were both incomplete and “generally” untruthful.

Mueller did not interview with Trump for the FBI director’s post.

The president has claimed that Mueller applied to become director of the FBI and was turned down shortly before being appointed special counsel. Trump was apparently trying to suggest that Mueller was therefore biased against him.

Mueller refuted that during his testimony on Wednesday.

“I was asked to give my input on what it would take to do the job, which triggered the interview you’re talking about,” he said in response to a question from Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.). (Mueller had previously served as head of the FBI for 12 years, from 2001 to 2013.)

“I interviewed with the president,” Mueller added, but he noted, “It was about the job, not me applying for the job.”

Trump’s praise of WikiLeaks’ publishing hacked emails was “problematic.”

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) on Wednesday read out several Trump tweets and public statements in praise of WikiLeaks, which published hacked emails that damaged the Clinton campaign in 2016. Among them were comments like: “I love WikiLeaks,” “This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove,” and “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.”

In effect, Trump was celebrating the fact that a U.S. presidential campaign had been hacked, likely by a foreign power, Russia, which then passed the information along to WikiLeaks.

“‘Problematic’ is an understatement,” Mueller said, adding that Trump’s statements boost “what is and should be illegal activity.”