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Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller Is Questioned By Congress Regarding His Report. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired July 24, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MUELLER: I -- I think generally correct.
JEFFRIES: One day later on Saturday, June 17, President Trump called White House counsel Don McGahn at home and directed him to fire the special counsel. True?
MUELLER: I believe it to be true. I think we've been -- I may have stated in response to questions some.
JEFFRIES: That is correct. President Trump told Don McGahn quote, "Mueller has to go," close quote. Correct?
JEFFRIES: Your report found on page 89, Volume 2 that substantial evidence indicates that by June 17 the president knew his conduct was under investigation by a federal prosecutor who could present any evidence of federal crimes to a grand jury. True?
JEFFRIES: The third element, second element having just been satisfied, the third element of the crime of obstruction of justice is corrupt intent. True?
JEFFRIES: Corrupt intent exists if the president acted to obstruct an official preceding for the improper purpose of protecting his own interest. Correct?
MUELLER: That's generally correct.
JEFFRIES: Thank you.
MUELLER: And I -- the only thing I would say is we are going through the three elements of proof of the -- obstruction of justice charges when the fact of the matter is we got -- excuse me just one second.
JEFFRIES: Well thank you Mr. Mueller. Let me -- let me move on in the interest of time. Upon learning about the appointment of the special counsel, your investigation found that Donald Trump stated to the then attorney general quote, "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f'ed." Is that correct?
JEFFRIES: Is it fair to say that Donald Trump viewed the special counsel's investigation into his conduct as adverse to his own interest?
MUELLER: I think that generally is true.
JEFFRIES: The investigation found evidence quote, "that the president knew that he should not have directed Don McGahn to fire the special counsel." Correct?
MUELLER: And where do you have that -- that quote?
JEFFRIES: Page 90, Volume 2. "There's evidence that the president knew he should not have made those calls to McGahn", close quote.
MUELLER: I see that, yes, that's accurate.
JEFFRIES: The investigation also found substantial evidence that President Trump repeatedly urged McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the Special Counsel terminated, correct?
JEFFRIES: 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 an official proceeding, three, did so with corrupt intent.
Those are the elements of obstruction of justice. 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: Let me -- let me just say I -- if I might, I don't subscribe necessarily to your -- the way you analyze that. I'm not saying it's out of the ballpark, but I'm not supportive of that analytical charge.
JEFFRIES: Thank you.
NADLER: (OFF MIKE)
BUCK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Mueller, over here.
BUCK: Hi, I want to start by thanking you for your service. You joined the Marines and led a rifle platoon in Vietnam where you earned a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other accommodations.
You serves as an assistant United States attorney, leading the homicide unit here in D.C., U.S. attorney for the district of Massachusetts and later Northern District of California, assistant attorney general for DOJ's criminal division and the FBI director. So thank you. I appreciate that. But having reviewed your biography, it puzzles me why you handled your duties in this case the way you did. The report contradicts what you taught young attorneys at the Department of Justice, including to ensure that every defendant is treated fairly or as Justice Sutherland said in the Berger case, a prosecutor is not the representative of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose interest in a criminal prosecution is not that shall win a case, but that justice shall be done and that the prosecutor may strike hard blows but he is not at liberty to strike fowl ones.
By listing the 10 factual situations and not reaching a conclusion about the merits of the case, you unfairly shifted the burden of proof to the president, forcing him to prove his innocence while denying him a legal form to do so.
And I've never heard of a prosecutor declining a case and then holding a press conference to talk about the defendant. You noted eight times in your report that you had a legal duty under the regulations to either prosecute or decline charges.
Despite this, you disregarded that duty. As a former prosecutor, I'm also troubled with your legal analysis. You discussed 10 separate factual patterns involving alleged obstruction and then you failed to separately apply the elements of the applicable statutes.
[10:35:00] I looked at the 10 factual situations and I read the case law and I have to tell you just looking at the Flynn matter for example, the four statutes that you cited for possible obstruction, 1503, 1505, 1512 B3 and 1512 C2.
When I look at those concerning the Flynn matter, 1503 is inapplicable because there wasn't a grand jury or trial jury impaneled and Director Comey was not an officer of the court as defined by the statute.
Section 1505 criminalizes acts that would obstruct or impede administrative proceedings, those before Congress an administrative agency, the Department of Justice criminal resource manual states that the FBI investigation is not a pending proceeding.
1512 B3 talks about intimidation threats of force to tamper with a witness. General Flynn at the time was not a witness and certainly Director Comey was not a witness. And 1512 C2 talks about tampering with the record and as Joe Biden described the statute as being debated on the Senate floor, he called this a statute criminalizing document shredding, and there's nothing in the -- in your report that alleges that the president destroyed any evidence.
So what I have to ask and what I think people are working around in this hearing is -- let me lay a little foundation for you, the ethical rules require that a prosecutor have a reasonable probability of conviction to bring a charge, is that correct?
MUELLER: Generally accurate.
BUCK: OK. And the regulations concerning your job as special counsel state that your job is to provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by your office.
You recommended declining prosecution of President Trump and anyone associated with his campaign because there was insufficient evidence to convict for a charge of conspiracy with Russian interference in the 2016 election. Is that fair?
MUELLER: That's fair.
BUCK: Was there sufficient evidence to convict President Trump or anyone else with obstruction of justice?
MUELLER: We did not make that calculation.
BUCK: How could you not have made the calculation when the regulation...
MUELLER: Because the OLC opinion -- the OLC opinion, Office of Legal Counsel, indicates that we cannot indict a sitting president. So one of the tools that a prosecutor would use is not there.
BUCK: OK but let me just stop, you made the decision on the Russian interference, you couldn't have indicted the president on that and you made the decision on that. But when it came to obstruction, you threw a bunch of stuff up against the wall to see what would stick, and that is fundamentally unfair.
MUELLER: I would not agree to -- I would not agree to that characterization at all. What we did is provide to the attorney general in the form of a confidential memorandum our understanding of the case.
Those cases that were brought, those cases that were declined and the -- that one case where the president cannot be charged with a crime.
BUCK: OK, but the -- could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?
BUCK: You believe that he committed -- you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office.
BUCK: Ethically, under the ethical standards.
MUELLER: Well I am -- I'm not certain because I haven't looked at the ethical standards, but the OLC opinion says that the prosecutor while he cannot bring a charge against a sitting president, nonetheless he continue the investigation to see if there are any other person to might be drawn into the conspiracy.
NADLER: Time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Rhode Island. CICILLINE: Director, Director as you know we are specifically focusing
on five separate obstruction episodes here today. I'd like to ask you about the third episode, it's the section of your report entitled the president's efforts to curtail the Special Counsel investigation beginning at page 90.
And by curtail you mean limit, correct?
CICILLINE: My colleagues have walked through how the president tried to have you fired through the White House Council, and because Mr. McGahn refused the order, the president asked others to help limit your investigation, is that correct?
CICILLINE: And was Cory Lewandowski one such individual?
MUELLER: Again, can you remind me what character (ph)...
CICILLINE: Well Cory Lewandowski is the president's former campaign manager, correct?
CICILLINE: Did he have any official position in the Trump administration?
MUELLER: I don't believe so.
CICILLINE: Your report describes an incident in the Oval Office involving Mr. Lewandowski on June 19, 2017 that Volume 2 page 91, is that correct.
MUELLER: I'm sorry, what's the citation, sir?
CICILLINE: Page 91.
MUELLER: Of the second volume?
MUELLER: And where...
CICILLINE: A meeting in the Oval Office between Mr. Lewandowski and the president.
CICILLINE: And that was just two days after the president called Don McGahn at home and ordered him to fire you. Is that correct?
MUELLER: Apparently so.
CICILLINE: So right after his White House Counsel, Mr. McGahn refused to follow the president's order to fire you, the president came up with a new plan. And that was to go around all of his senior advisors and government aids to have a private citizen try to limit your investigation.
[10:40:00] What did the president tell Mr. Lewandowski to do? Do you recall, he called him -- he dictated a message to Mr. Lewandowski for Attorney General Sessions and asked him to write it down, is that correct?
CICILLINE: And do you -- did you and your team see this handwritten message?
MUELLER: I'm not going to get into what we may or may not have included in our investigation.
CICILLINE: OK. The message directed Sessions to give, and -- and I'm quoting from your report, to give a public speech saying that he planned to, "Meet with the special prosecutor to explain this is very unfair and threat the special prosecutor move forward with investigating investigation meddling for future elections." That's at page 91. Is that correct?
MUELLER: Yes, I see that, thank you. Yes, it is.
CICILLINE: In other words, Mr. Lewandowski, a private citizen, was instructed by the president of the United States to deliver a message from the president to the attorney general that directed him to limit your investigation. Correct?
CICILLINE: And at this time, Mr. Sessions was still recused from oversight of your investigation. Correct?
MUELLER: I'm sorry. Could you restate that?
CICILLINE: The attorney general was recused from oversight.
MUELLER: Yes. Yes.
CICILLINE: So the attorney general had to violate his own Department's rules in order to comply with the president's order, correct?
MUELLER: Well, I'm not going to get into the subsidiary details...
MUELLER: ... I'd just refer you again to page 91, 92 of the report.
CICILLINE: And if the attorney general had followed through with the president's request, Mr. Mueller, it would have effectively ended your investigation into the president and his campaign, as you note on page 97. Correct?
MUELLER: Could you?
CICILLINE: On page 97 you write, and I quote, "Taken together, the president's directives indicate that Sessions was being instructed to tell the special counsel to end the existing investigation into the president and his campaign, with the special counsel being permitted to move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections." Is that correct?
MUELLER: Generally true, yes, sir.
CICILLINE: And it's -- an unsuccessful attempt to obstruct justice is still a crime, is that correct?
MUELLER: That is correct.
CICILLINE: And Mr. Lewandowski tried to meet with the attorney general. Is that right?
CICILLINE: And he tried to meet with him in his office so he would be sure -- certain there wasn't a public log of the visit?
MUELLER: According to what we gathered for the report.
CICILLINE: And the meeting never happened. And the president raised the issue again with Mr. Lewandowski and this time he said, and I quote, "If Sessions does not meet with you, Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was fired," correct?
CICILLINE: So immediately following the meeting with the president, Lewandowski then asked Mr. Dearborn to deliver the message, who's the former chief of staff to Mr. Sessions. And Mr. Dearborn refuses to deliver it because he doesn't feel comfortable. Isn't that correct?
MUELLER: Generally correct, yes.
CICILLINE: Just so we're clear, Mr. Mueller, two days after the White House Counsel Don McGahn refused to carry out the president's order to fire you, the president directed a private citizen to tell the attorney general of the United States -- who was recused at the time -- to limit your investigation to future elections, effectively ending your investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign. Is that correct?
MUELLER: Well, I'm not going to adopt your characterization. I'll say that the facts as laid out in the report are accurate.
CICILLINE: Well, Mr. Mueller, in your report you, in fact, write at page 99 -- 97, "Substantial evidence indicates that the president's effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the special counsel's investigation to future elections interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the president and his campaign conduct." Is that correct?
CICILLINE: And so, Mr. Mueller, you have seen a letter where 1,000 former Republican and Democratic federal prosecutors have read your report and said anyone but the president who committed those acts would be charged with obstruction of justice. Do you agree with those former colleagues, 1,000 prosecutors, who came to that conclusion?
BIGGS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Over here. Thanks.
Mr. Mueller, you guys -- your team wrote in the report, quote, on -- this is at the top of page 2, Volume 1 -- also on page 173, by the way -- you said you'd come to the conclusion that, quote, "The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities," closed quote. That's an accurate statement, right?
MUELLER: That's accurate.
BIGGS: And I'm curious, when did you personally come to that conclusion?
MUELLER: Can you remind me which paragraph you're referring to?
BIGGS: Top of page 2...
MUELLER: On 2?
BIGGS: ... Volume 1.
MUELLER: OK. And exactly which paragraph are you looking at on 2?
BIGGS: Investigation did not establish...
MUELLER: Of course, I see it.
BIGGS: You see it?
MUELLER: Yes. And what was your question?
BIGGS: My question now is when did you personally reach that conclusion?
MUELLER: Well, we were ongoing for two years.
[10:45:00] BIGGS: Right. You were ongoing and you wrote it at some point during that two-year period. But at some point, you had to come to a conclusion that -- that I don't think there's a -- that there's not a conspiracy going on here. There was no conspiracy between this president -- and I'm not talking about the rest of the president's team, I'm talking about this president and the Russians.
MUELLER: As you understand, in developing a criminal case, you get pieces of information -- pieces of information, witnesses and the like as you make your case.
MUELLER: And when you make a decision on a particular case depends on a number of factors.
BIGGS: Right, I understand all this.
MUELLER: And so I cannot say specifically that we reached the decision on a particular defendant at a particular point in time.
BIGGS: But it was sometime well before you wrote the report. Fair enough? I mean, you wrote the report dealing with a whole myriad of issues. Certainly, at some time prior to that report is when you reached the decision that, OK, with -- with regard to the president himself, I don't find anything here. Fair enough?
MUELLER: Well, I'm not certain I do agree with that. The...
BIGGS: So you waited until the last minute when you were actually writing the report and said, oh, OK...
MUELLER: ... No, but there -- there are various aspects of the development of an...
BIGGS: ... Sure. And that's my point. There are various aspects that are -- that happen. But somewhere along the pike, you will come to a conclusion, there's no there, there (ph) for this defendant. Isn't that right? So apparently...
MUELLER: I can't -- I can't speak to it.
BIGGS: ... You can't -- you can't say when? Fair enough. So -- so...
ZEBLEY: Mr. Biggs, I...
BIGGS: ... No, I'm not -- I'm asking the -- the sworn witness.
Mr. Mueller, evidence suggests that on May 10th, 2017 at approximately 7:45 a.m., six days before the DAG, that's deputy attorney general, appointed you special counsel, Mr. Rosenstein called you and mentioned the appointment of a special counsel, not -- not necessarily that you would be appointed, but that you had a discussion of that. Is that -- is that true? May 10th, 2017.
MUELLER: I -- I -- I don't have any -- no, I don't have any knowledge of that occurring.
BIGGS: You don't have any knowledge or you don't recall?
MUELLER: I don't have any knowledge.
BIGGS: Evidence also suggests that...
MUELLER: I mean (ph), given that -- what I saw you do, are you questioning that?
BIGGS: ... Well, I -- I just find it intriguing. Let me just tell you that there's evidence that suggests that that phone call took place and that that is what was said. So let's move to the next question.
Evidence suggests that also on May 12th, 2017, five days before the DAG appointed you special counsel, you met with Mr. Rosenstein in person. Did you discuss the appointment of special counsel then, not necessarily you but that there would be a special counsel.
MUELLER: I -- I've gone into waters that don't allow me to give you an answer the particular question. It relates to the internal discussions we would have in terms of indicting an individual.
BIGGS: It has nothing to with the indictment. It has to do with special counsel and whether you discussed that with Mr. Rosenstein.
Evidence also suggested, on May 13th, four days before you were appointed special counsel, you met with attorney -- former Attorney General Sessions and Rosenstein and you spoke about special counsel. Do you remember that?
MUELLER: Not offhand, no.
BIGGS: OK. And on May 16th, the day before you were appointed special counsel, you met with the president and Rod Rosenstein. Do you remember having that meeting?
BIGGS: And the discussion of the position of the FBI director took place. Do you remember that?
BIGGS: And did you discuss at any time in that meeting Mr. Comey's termination?
BIGGS: Did you discuss at any time in that meeting the potential appointment of a special counsel? Not necessarily you, but just in general terms?
MUELLER: I can't get into any discussions on that.
BIGGS: How many times did you speak to Mr. Rosenstein before May 17, which is the day you got appointed, regarding the appointment of special counsel? How many times prior to that did you -- did you discuss with him? MUELLER: I can't tell you how many times.
BIGGS: Is that because you don't recall or you just...
MUELLER: I do not recall.
BIGGS: OK. Thank you. How many times -- did you speak with Mr. Comey about any investigations pertaining to the Russia prior to May 17, 2017? Did you have any?
MUELLER: None at all (ph).
BIGGS: OK. Now, my time's -- my time is expired. So...
NADLER: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from California.
SWALWELL: Director Mueller, going back to the president's obstruction via Corey Lewandowski, it was referenced that a thousand former prosecutors who served under Republican and Democratic administrations with 12,000 years of federal service wrote a letter regarding the president's conduct. Are you familiar with that letter?
MUELLER: I've read about that letter, yes.
SWALWELL: Some of the individuals who signed that letter, the statement of former prosecutors, are people you worked with. Is that right?
MUELLER: Quite probably. Yes.
SWALWELL: People that you respect?
MUELLER: Quite probably yes.
SWALWELL: And in that letter, they said all of this conduct, trying to control and impede the investigation against the president by leveraging his authority over others is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions. Are they wrong?
MUELLER: They have a different case.
SWALWELL: Do you want to sign that letter, Director Mueller?
MUELLER: No. They have a different case.
SWALWELL: Director Mueller, thank you for your service going all the way back to the 60s when you courageously served in Vietnam. Because I have a seat on the Intelligence Committee, I'll have questions later. And because of our limited time, I will ask to enter this letter into the record under unanimous consent... [10:50:00] NADLER: Without objection.
SWALWELL: ... and I yield for my colleague from California, Mr. Lieu.
LIEU: Thank you, director Mueller, for you long history of service to our country including your service as a Marine where you earned a brown star with a V device.
I'd like to now turn to the elements of obstruction of justice as applied to the president's attempts to curtail your investigation. The first element of obstruction of justice requites and obstructive act, correct?
LIEU: OK. I'd like to direct you to page 97 of Volume 2 of your report, and you wrote there on page 97, quote, "Sessions was being instructed to tell the special counsel to end the existing investigation into the president and his campaign," unquote. That's in the report, correct?
LIEU: That would be evidence of an obstructive act because it would naturally obstruct their investigation, correct?
LIEU: OK. Let's turn now to the second element of the crime of obstruction of justice which requires a nexus to an official proceeding. Again, I'm going to direct you to page 97, the same page of Volume 2. And you wrote, quote, "by the time of the president's initial one-on-one meeting with Lewandowski on June 19, 2017, the existence of a grand jury investigation supervised by the special counsel was public knowledge." That's in the report, correct?
LIEU: That would constitute evidence of a nexus to an official proceeding because a grand jury investigation is an official proceeding, correct?
LIEU: OK. I'd like to now turn to the final element of the crime of obstruction to justice. On that same page, page 97, do you see where there is the intent section on that page?
MUELLER: I do see that.
LIEU: All right. Would you be willing to read the first sentence?
MUELLER: And that was starting with...
LIEU: Substantial evidence.
MUELLER: Indicates that the president...
LIEU: If you read that first sentence, would you be willing to do that?
MUELLER: I'm happy to have you read it.
LIEU: OK. I will read it. You wrote, quote, "substantial evidence indicates that the president's effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the special counsel's investigation be featuring (ph) election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the president and his campaign's conduct," unquote. That's in the report, correct?
MUELLER: That is in the report, and I rely what's in the report to indicate what's happened in the paragraphs that we've been discussing.
LIEU: Thank you. So to recap what we've heard, we have heard today that the president ordered former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, to fire you. The president ordered Don McGahn to then cover that up and create a false paper trail. And now we've heard the president ordered Corey Lewandowski to tell Jeff Sessions to limit your investigation so that he -- you stop investigating the president.
I believe any reasonable person looking at these facts could conclude that all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice have been met. And I'd like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?
MUELLER: That is correct.
LIEU: The fact that their orders by the president were not carried out, that is not a defense to obstruction of justice because a statute itself is quite dry. It says that as long as you endeavor or attempt to obstruct justice, that would also constitute a crime.
MUELLER: I'm not going to get into that at this juncture.
LIEU: OK. Thank you, and based on the evidence that we have heard today, I believe a reasonable person could conclude that at least three crimes of obstruction of justice by the president occurred. We're going to hear about two additional crimes. That would be the witnessed hamperings of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, and I yield back.
MUELLER: Well, the only thing I want to add is that I'm going through the elements with you do not mean or does not mean that I subscribe to the -- what you're trying to prove through those elements.
NADLER: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentlelady from Arizona. I'm sorry. Gentleman from California.
MCCLINTOCK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mueller, over here. Thanks for joining us today. You had three discussions with Rod Rosenstein about your appointment as special counsel May 10, May 12, and May 13, correct? MUELLER: If you say so, I have no reason to dispute that.
MCCLINTOCK: Then you met with the president on the 16th with Rod Rosenstein present. And then on the 17th, you were formally appointed as special counsel. Were you meeting with the president on the 16th with knowledge that you were under consideration for appointment of special counsel?
MUELLLER: I did not believe I was under consideration for counsel. The -- I had served two terms as FBI director...
MCCLINTOCK: We consider (ph) the answer's no.
[10:55:00] MUELLER: The answer's no.
MCCLINTOCK: Gregg Jarrett describes your office as the team of partisans. And additional information's coming to light, there's a growing concern that political biased caused important facts to be omitted from your report in order to cast the president unfairly in a negative light.
For example, John Dowd, the president's lawyer, leaves a message with Michael Flynn's lawyer on November 17 in 2017 -- November 2017. The edited version in your report makes it appear that he was improperly asking for confidential information, and that's all we know from your report expect that the judge in the Flynn case ordered the entire transcript released in which Dowd makes it crystal clear that's not what he was suggesting. So my question's why did you edit the transcript to hide the exculpatory part of the message?
MUELLER: I will answer and I will agree (ph) with your characterization as we did anything to hide...
MCCLINTOCK: Well, you omitted -- you omitted it. You quoted the part where he says we need some kind of heads up just for the sake of protecting all of our interests if we can, but you omitted the portion where he says without giving up any confidential information.
MUELLER: Well, I'm not going to go further in terms of discussing the...
MCCLINTOCK: Well, let's go on.
MUELLER: ... what's -- what the (ph)...
MCCLINTOCK: You -- you extensively discussed Konstantin Kilimnik's activities with Paul Manafort. And you described him as, quote, "A Russian/Ukrainian political consultant," and, "longtime employee of Paul Manafort, assessed by the FBI to have ties to Russian intelligence."
And again, that's all we know from your report, except we've since learned from news articles that Kilimnik was actually a U.S. State Department intelligence source, yet nowhere in your report is he so identified. Why was that fact omitted?
MUELLER: I don't -- I don't necessarily credit what you're saying occurred.
MCCLINTOCK: Were you aware that Kilimnik was a -- a...
MUELLER: I'm not going to go into the...
MCCLINTOCK: ...State Department source?
MUELLER: ... ins and outs -- I'm not going to go into the ins and outs of what we had in the -- in the course...
MCCLINTOCK: Did you interview...
MUELLER: ... in the course of our investigation.
MCCLINTOCK: ... did you interview Konstantin Kilimnik?
MCCLINTOCK: Did you interview Konstantin Kilimnik?
MUELLER: I can't go into the discussion of our investigative moves.
MCCLINTOCK: And -- and -- and yet that is the -- the -- the basis of your report. Again, the problem we're having is we have to rely on your report for an accurate reflection of the evidence and we're starting to find out that's -- that's not true.
For example, you -- you -- your report famously links Russian Internet troll farms with the Russian government. Yet, at a hearing on May 28th in the Concord Management IRA prosecution that you initiated, the judge excoriated both you and Mr. Barr for producing no evidence to support this claim.
Why did you suggest Russia was responsible for the troll farms, when, in court, you've been unable to produce any evidence to support it?
MUELLER: Well, I am not going to get into that any further than I -- than I already have.
MCCLINTOCK: But -- but you -- you have left the clear impression throughout the country, through your report, that it -- it was the Russian government behind the troll farms. And yet, when you're called upon to provide actual evidence in court, you fail to do so.
MUELLER: Well, I would again dispute your characterization of what occurred in that -- in that proceeding.
MCCLINTOCK: In -- in -- in fact, the judge considering -- considered holding prosecutors in criminal contempt. She backed off, only after your hastily called press conference the next day in which you retroactively made the distinction between the Russian government and the Russia troll farms. Did your press conference on May 29th have anything to do with the
threat to hold your prosecutors in contempt the previous day for publicly misrepresenting the evidence?
MUELLER: What was the question?
MCCLINTOCK: The -- the question is, did your May 29th press conference have anything to do with the fact that the previous day the judge threatened to hold your prosecutors in contempt for misrepresenting evidence?
MCCLINTOCK: Now, the -- the -- the fundamental problem is -- is that, as I said, we've got to take your word, your team faithfully, accurately, impartially and completely described all of the underlying evidence in the Mueller report.
And we're finding more and more instances where this just isn't the case. And it's starting to look like, you know, having desperately tried and failed to make a legal case against the president, you made a political case instead. You put it in a paper sack, lit it on fire, dropped it on our porch, rang the doorbell and ran.
MUELLER: I don't think you reviewed a report that is as thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report that we have in front of us.
MCCLINTOCK: Then -- then why is contradictory information...
NADLER: The time of the gentleman has expired...
MCCLINTOCK: ... continuing to come out?
NADLER: ... The gentleman from Maryland is recognized.
RASKIN: Director Mueller, let's go to a fourth episode of obstruction of justice in the form of a witness tampering, which is urging witnesses not to cooperate with law enforcement, either by persuading them or intimidating them. Witness tampering is a felony, punishable by 20 years in prison.
You found evidence that the president engaged in efforts, and I quote, "To encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation." Is that right?
MUELLER: That's correct. Do you have a citation?
RASKIN: On page 7, on Volume 2.
MUELLER: Thank you.
RASKIN: Now, one of these witnesses was Michael Cohen, the president's personal lawyer, who ultimately plead guilty.