WASHINGTON - Robert Mueller refused to play the part. Not for Republicans and not for Democrats.
In back-to-back hearings before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, the former special counsel in the investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential elections largely honored his pledge to stick to his 448-page report . He often answered questions in a single word.
Republicans tried to get Mueller to spell out the findings that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove any criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Democrats pressed him to expand on the conclusion in his report that he could not exonerate President Donald Trump on possible charges of obstruction of justice.
But Mueller left both sides wanting.
MUELLER WOULDN’T BE A MOUTHPIECE
Mueller wouldn’t even read from his own report. That made it challenging for Democrats who called him in hopes that the sheer force of hearing him say the words on television would be more powerful to many Americans than the written form.
But Mueller demurred, and Democrats had to read his words for him.
Similarly, Mueller wouldn’t answer specifically when Republicans repeatedly tried to question him about the origins of the Russia investigation, the use of secret surveillance warrants.
Mueller would only speak generally about Peter Strozk, a former FBI agent on his team who helped lead the investigation and exchanged anti-Trump text messages during the 2016 election with ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
Mueller left it to the partisans to do the parsing.
RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IS STILL HAPPENING
Mueller was, for him anyway, far more expansive when he was asked about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections. He also condemned Trump’s praise of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that released material stolen from Democratic groups, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“Problematic is an understatement,” he said.
U.S. intelligence agencies and Mueller’s investigation determined Russian government entities were responsible for the hack and furnished the embarrassing correspondence to WikiLeaks in order to support Trump’s bid for the presidency. Authorities also found Russia engaged in an organized social media effort to sow discord among American voters.
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