Jul 24, 2019
Robert Mueller Testimony Transcript: House Congressional Testimony
Robert Mueller testified before both the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee on July 24, 2019. Mueller took questions from several members of Congress on his report, which involved primarily Russian interference in the 2016 election
See the full transcript of over 6 hours of testimony below.
Robert Mueller Opening Remarks
Robert Mueller: 00:02 Good morning. Chairman Adler, and Ranking Member Collins and the members of the Committee. As you know, in May 2017, the acting attorney general asked me to serve as special counsel. I undertook that role because I believe that it was of paramount interest to the nation to determine whether a foreign adversary had interfered in the presidential election. As the acting attorney general said at the time, the appointment was necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome. My staff and I carried out this assignment with that critical objective in mind to work quietly, thoroughly, and with integrity so that the public would have full confidence in the outcome. The order appointing me as special counsel directed our office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. It also included investigating efforts to interfere with or obstruct our investigation.
Robert Mueller: 01:24 Throughout the investigation, I continually stressed two things to the team that we had assembled. First, we needed to do our work as thoroughly as possible and as expeditiously as possible. It was in the public interest for our investigation to be complete and not to last a day longer than was necessary. Second, the investigation needed to be conducted fairly and with absolute integrity. Our team would not leak or take other actions that could compromise the integrity of our work. All decisions were made based on the facts and the law. During the course of our investigation, we charged more than 30 defendants with committing federal crimes, including 12 officers of the Russian military. Seven defendants have been convicted or pled guilty. Certain of the charges we brought remain pending today, and for those matters, I stress that the indictments contained allegations and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Robert Mueller: 02:35 In addition to the criminal charges we brought as required by Justice Department regulations, we submitted a confidential report to the attorney general at the conclusion of our investigation. The report set forth the results of our work and the reasons for our charging and declination decisions. The attorney general later made the report largely public. As you know, I made a few limited remarks about our report when we closed the special counsel’s office in May of this year, but there are certain points that bear emphasis.
Robert Mueller: 03:16 First, our 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 a 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 and 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. Finally, as described in volume two of our report, we investigated a series of actions by the president towards the investigation.
Robert Mueller: 04:19 Based on Justice Department policy and principles of fairness, we decided we would not make a determination as to whether the president committed a crime. That was our decision then and it remains our decision today. Let me say a further word about my appearance today. It is unusual for a prosecutor to testify about a criminal investigation and given my role as a prosecutor, there are reasons why my testimony will necessarily be limited.
Robert Mueller: 04:55 First, public testimony could affect several ongoing matters. In some of these matters. Court rules or judicial orders, limited disclosure of information to protect, 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 a letter discussing the restrictions on my testimony.
Robert Mueller: 05:46 I therefore will not be able to answer questions about certain areas that I know are of public interest. For example, I am unable to address questions about the initial opening of the FBI’s Russia investigation, which occurred months before my appointment or matters related to the so-called Steele Dossier. These matters are subject of ongoing review by the department. Any questions on these topics should therefore be directed to the FBI or the Justice Department.
Robert Mueller: 06:20 As I explained when we closed the special counsel’s office in May, our report contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We conducted an extensive investigation over two years. In writing the report, we stated the results of our investigation with precision. We scrutinized every word. I do not intend to summarize or describe the results of our work in a different way in the course in my testimony today. As I said on May 29th, the report is my testimony and I will stay within that text. And as I stated in May, I will not comment on the actions of the attorney general or of Congress. I was appointed as a prosecutor and I intend to adhere to that role and to the department standards that govern it. I’ll be joined today by Deputy Special Counsel, Aaron Zebley. Mr. Zebley has extensive experience as a federal prosecutor and at the FBI where he served as my Chief of Staff. And Mr. Zebley was responsible for the day-to-day oversight of the investigations conducted by our office.
Robert Mueller: 07:41 I also want to again say thank you to the attorneys, the FBI agents, the analysts, the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals, who spent nearly two years working on this matter, were of the highest integrity. And let me say one more thing. Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious, and as I said on May 29th, this deserves the attention of every American. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Jerry Nadler Speaks
Jerry Nadler: 00:00 Welcome everyone to today’s hearing on oversight of the report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. I will now recognize myself for a brief opening statement.
Jerry Nadler: 00:13 Director Mueller, thank you for being here. I want to say just a few words about our themes today, responsibility, integrity, and accountability. Your career, for example, is a model of responsibility. You are a decorated Marine officer. You were rewarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for valor in Vietnam. You served in senior roles at the Department of Justice, and in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 you served as Director of the FBI. Two years ago, you returned to public service to lead the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. You conducted that investigation with remarkable integrity. For 22 months, you never commented in public about your work, even when you were subjected to repeated and grossly unfair personal attacks. Instead, your indictments spoke for you and in astonishing detail.
Jerry Nadler: 01:12 Over the course of your investigation, you obtained criminal indictments against 37 people and entities. You secured the conviction of President Trump’s campaign chairman, his deputy campaign manager, his national security advisor, and his personal lawyer, among others. In the Paul Manafort case alone, you recovered as much as $42 million so that the cost of your investigation to the taxpayers approaches zero. And in your report, you offer the country accountability as well. In volume one, you find that the Russian government attacked our 2016 elections, “In a sweeping and systematic fashion,” and that the attacks were designed to benefit the Trump campaign. Volume two walks us through 10 separate incidents of possible obstruction of justice where, in your words, President Trump attempted to exert undue influence over your investigation. The president’s behavior included, and I quote from your report, “Public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate.”
Jerry Nadler: 02:28 Among the most shocking of these incidents, President Trump ordered his White House counsel to have you fired, and then to lie and deny that it had happened. He ordered his former campaign manager to convince the recused Attorney General to step in and limit your work, and he attempted to prevent witnesses from cooperating with your investigation. Although department policy barred you from indicting the president for this conduct, you made clear that he is not exonerated. Any other person who acted in this way would have been charged with crimes, and in this nation not even the president is above the law.
Jerry Nadler: 03:11 Which brings me to this committee’s work, responsibility, integrity, and accountability. These are the marks by which we who serve on this committee will be measured as well. Director Mueller, we have a responsibility to address the evidence that you have uncovered. You recognized as much when you said, “The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” That process begins with the work of this committee. We will follow your example, Director Mueller. We will act with integrity. We will follow the facts where they lead. We will consider all appropriate remedies. We will make our recommendation to the House when our work concludes. We will do this work because there must be accountability for the conduct described in your report, especially as it relates to the president. Thank you again, Director Mueller. We look forward to your testimony.
Jerry Nadler: 04:13 It is now my pleasure to recognize the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Collins, for his opening statement.
Doug Collins Speaks
Doug Collins: 00:00 Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you Mr. Mueller for being here. For two years leading up to the release of the Mueller Report, and in the three months since, Americans were first told what to expect and then what to believe. Collusion we were told was in plain sight, even if the special counsel’s team didn’t find it. When Mr. Mueller produced his report and Attorney General Barr provided it to every American, we read no American conspired with Russia to interfere in our elections, but learned the depths of Russia’s malice toward America.
Doug Collins: 00:28 We are here to ask serious questions about Mr. Mueller’s work and we will do that. After an extended, unhampered investigation, today marks an end to Mr. Mueller’s involvement in an investigation that closed in April. The burden of proof for accusations that remain unproven is extremely high, and especially in light of the special counsel’s thoroughness.
Doug Collins: 00:48 We are told this investigation began as an inquiry into whether Russia meddled in our 2016 election. Mr. Mueller, you concluded they did. Russians accessed Democrat servers and disseminated sensitive information by tricking campaign insiders into revealing protected information. The investigation also reviewed whether Donald Trump, the President, sought Russian assistance as a candidate to win the presidency. Mr. Mueller concluded he did not. His family or advisors did not.
Doug Collins: 01:16 In fact, the report concludes no one in the President’s campaign colluded, collaborated, or conspired with the Russians. The President watched the public narrative surrounding this investigation assume his guilt while he knew the extent of his innocence. Volume two of Mr. Mueller’s report details the President’s reaction to frustrating investigation where his innocence was established early on. The President’s attitude toward the investigation was understandably negative. Yet the President did not use his authority to close the investigation.
Doug Collins: 01:45 He asked his lawyer if Mr. Mueller had conflicts that disqualified Mr. Mueller From the job, but he did not shut down the investigation. The President knew he was innocent. Those are the facts of the Mueller report. Russia meddled in the 2016 election, the President did not conspire with the Russian and nothing we hear today will change those facts.
Doug Collins: 02:07 But one element of this story remains, the beginnings of the FBI investigation into the President. I look forward to Mr. Mueller’s testimony about what he found during his review of the origins of the investigation. In addition, the Inspector General continues to review how baseless gossip can be used to launch an FBI investigation against a private citizen and eventually a President. Those results will be released and we will need to learn from them to ensure government intelligence and law enforcement powers are never again used and turned on a private citizen or a potential or a political candidate as a result of the political leanings of a handful of FBI agents.
Doug Collins: 02:41 The origins and conclusion of the Mueller investigation are the same things, what it means to be American. Every American has a voice in our democracy. We must protect the sanctity of their voice by combating election interference. Every American enjoys the presumption of innocence and guarantee of due process. If we carry anything away today, it must be that we increase our vigilance against foreign election interference while we ensure our government officials don’t weaponize their power against the constitutional rights guaranteed to every US citizen.
Doug Collins: 03:10 Finally, we must agree that the opportunity cost here is too high. The months we have spent investigating from this dais failed to end the border crisis or contribute to the growing job market. Instead we have gotten stuck and it’s paralyzed this committee and this house. And as a side note, every week I leave my family and kids, the most important things to me, to come to this place because I believe this place is a place where we can actually do things and help people.
Doug Collins: 03:35 Six and a half years ago, I came here to work on behalf of the people of the ninth district in this country, and we accomplished a lot in those first six years on a bipartisan basis with many of my friends across the aisle sitting on this dais with me today. However, this year, because the majority’s dislike of this President and the endless hearing and a closed investigation have caused us to accomplish nothing except talk about the problems of our country while our border is on fire, in crisis, and everything else is stopped. This hearing is long overdue. We’ve had truth for months. No American conspired to throw our election. What we need today is to let that truth bring us confidence and I hope, Mr. Chairman, closure. With that, I yield back.
Chairman Jerry Nadler Questioning
Jerry Nadler: 00:00 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?
Robert Mueller: 00:13 Correct, that is not what the report said.
Jerry Nadler: 00:15 Now reading from page two of volume two 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 judgement.” Now does that say there was no obstruction?
Robert Mueller: 00:41 No.
Jerry Nadler: 00:42 In fact, you were actually unable to conclude the president did not commit obstruction of justice. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:49 Well, we, at the outset, determined that we… When it came to the president’s culpability, we needed to go forward only after taking into account the OLC opinion that indicated that a president, a sitting president, cannot be indicted.
Jerry Nadler: 01:13 So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:20 That is correct.
Jerry Nadler: 01:21 And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the president?
Robert Mueller: 01:26 No.
Jerry Nadler: 01:27 No, in fact, your reports expressly states it does not exonerate the president.
Robert Mueller: 01:32 It does.
Jerry Nadler: 01:33 And your investigation actually found, “Multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian interference and obstruction investigations.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:47 Correct.
Jerry Nadler: 01:49 Now, Director Mueller, can you explain, in plain terms, what that finding means, so the American people can understand it?
Robert Mueller: 01:56 Well, the finding indicates that the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.
Jerry Nadler: 02:15 In fact, you were talking about incidents, “in which the president sought to use his official power outside of usual channels,” to exert undue influence over your investigations. Is that right?
Robert Mueller: 02:27 That’s correct.
Jerry Nadler: 02:28 Now, am I correct that on page seven of volume two of your report, you wrote, “The president became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an obstruction of justice inquiry. At that point, the president engaged in a second phase of conduct involving public attacks on the investigation, nonpublic efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.” So President Trump’s efforts to exert undue influence over your investigation intensified after the president became aware that he personally was being investigated?
Robert Mueller: 03:06 I stick with the language that you have in front of you.
Jerry Nadler: 03:09 Which…
Robert Mueller: 03:11 Which comes from page seven volume two.
Jerry Nadler: 03:14 Now, is it correct that if you concluded that the president committed the crime of obstruction, you could not publicly state that in your report or here today?
Robert Mueller: 03:23 Can you repeat the question, sir?
Jerry Nadler: 03:25 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?
Robert Mueller: 03:34 Well, I would say you, I could… The statement would be that you would not indict, and you would not indict because under the OLC opinion, a sitting president, excuse me, cannot be indicted, be unconstitutional.
Jerry Nadler: 03:50 Okay, so you could not state that because of the OLC opinion, if that would have been your conclusion.
Robert Mueller: 03:54 Well, OLC opinion with some guide, yes.
Jerry Nadler: 03:57 But under Department of Justice policy, the president could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice crimes after he leaves office. This correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:06 True.
Jerry Nadler: 04:07 Thank you. Did any senior White House official refuse a request to be interviewed by you and your team?
Robert Mueller: 04:14 I don’t believe so. Well, I take, let me take that back. I would have to look at it, but I’m not certain that that was the case.
Jerry Nadler: 04:23 Did the president refuse the request to be interviewed by you and your team?
Robert Mueller: 04:26 Yes.
Jerry Nadler: 04:27 Yes. And is it true that you tried for more than a year to secure an interview with the president?
Robert Mueller: 04:32 Yes.
Jerry Nadler: 04:33 And is it true that you and your team advised the president’s lawyer that, “An interview with the president is vital to our investigation”?
Robert Mueller: 04:41 Yes. Yes.
Jerry Nadler: 04:42 And is it true that you also, “Stated that it is in the interest of the presidency and the public for an interview to take place”?
Robert Mueller: 04:51 Yes.
Jerry Nadler: 04:52 But the president still refused to sit for an interview by you or your team?
Robert Mueller: 04:55 True. True.
Jerry Nadler: 04:58 And did you also ask him to provide written answers to questions on the 10 possible episodes of obstruction of justice crimes involving him?
Robert Mueller: 05:06 Yes.
Jerry Nadler: 05:07 Did he provide any answers to a single question about whether he engaged in obstruction of justice crimes?
Robert Mueller: 05:12 I would have to check on that, I’m not certain.
Jerry Nadler: 05:14 Director Muller, we are grateful that you are here to explain your investigation and findings. Having reviewed your work, I believe anyone else would engage in the conduct described in your report would have been criminally prosecuted. Your work is vitally important to this committee and the American people because no one is above the law.
Pramilia Jayapal Questioning
Pramilia J.: 00:11 Thank you. Director Mueller, let’s turn to the fifth of the obstruction episodes in your report. And that is the evidence of whether President Trump engaged in witness tampering with Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, whose foreign ties were critical to your investigation into Russia’s interference in our elections.
Pramilia J.: 00:29 And this starts at volume two, page 123. Your office got indictments against Manafort and Trump Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates in two different jurisdictions, correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:41 Correct.
Pramilia J.: 00:42 And your office found that after a grand jury indicted them, Manafort told Gates not to plead guilty to any charges because quote, “He had talked to the president’s personal counsel and they were going to take care of us.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:56 That’s accurate.
Pramilia J.: 00:57 And according to your report, one day after Manafort’s conviction on eight felony charges, quote, “The president said that flipping was not fair and almost ought to be outlawed.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:10 I’m aware of that.
Pramilia J.: 01:11 In this context, Director Mueller, what does it mean to flip?
Robert Mueller: 01:14 Have somebody cooperate in a criminal investigation.
Pramilia J.: 01:17 And how essential is that cooperation to any efforts to combat crime?
Robert Mueller: 01:22 Well, I’m not going to go beyond that. Characterizing that effort.
Pramilia J.: 01:24 Thank you. In your report, you concluded that President Trump and his personal counsel, Rudy Giuliani, quote, “Made repeated statements suggesting that a pardon was a possibility for Manafort while also making it clear that the president did not want Manafort to flip and cooperate with the government.” End quote. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:41 Correct.
Pramilia J.: 01:42 And as you stated earlier, witness tampering can be shown where someone with an improper motive encourages another person not to cooperate with law enforcement. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:52 Correct.
Pramilia J.: 01:53 Now on page 123 of volume two, you also discuss the president’s motive and you say that as court proceedings move forward against Manafort, President Trump quote “Discussed with aids, whether and in what way Manafort might be cooperating and whether Manafort knew any information that would be harmful to the president.” End quote. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:15 And that was a quote from?
Pramilia J.: 02:17 From page 123, volume two.
Robert Mueller: 02:19 I have it. Thank you. Yes.
Pramilia J.: 02:21 And when someone tries to stop another person from working with law enforcement and they do it because they’re worried about what that person will say. It seems clear from what you wrote that this is a classic definition of witness tampering. Now, Mr. Manafort did eventually decide to cooperate with your office and he entered into a plea agreement, but then he broke that agreement. Can you describe what he did that caused you to tell the court that the agreement was off?
Robert Mueller: 02:48 I refer you to the court proceedings on that issue.
Pramilia J.: 02:49 So, on page 127 of volume two, you told the court that Mr. Manafort lied about a number of matters that were material to the investigation and you said that the Manafort’s lawyers also quote “Regularly briefed the president’s lawyers on topics discussed and the information that Manafort had provided in interviews with the special counsel’s office.” Does that sound right?
Robert Mueller: 03:09 And the source of that is?
Pramilia J.: 03:11 That’s page 127, volume two. That’s a direct quote.
Robert Mueller: 03:14 If it’s from the report, yes I support it.
Pramilia J.: 03:16 Thank you. And two days after you told the court that Manafort broke his plea agreement by lying repeatedly, did President Trump tell the press that Mr. Manafort was quote, “Very brave because he did not flip.” This is page 128 of volume two.
Robert Mueller: 03:31 If it’s in the report, I support it as it is set forth.
Pramilia J.: 03:35 Thank you. Director Mueller, in your report, you make a very serious conclusion about the evidence regarding the president’s involvement with the Manafort criminal proceedings. Let me read to you from your report. “Evidence concerning the president’s conduct toward Manafort indicates that the president intended to encourage Manafort to not cooperate with the government. It is clear that the president, both publicly and privately, discouraged Mr Manafort’s cooperation or flipping while also dangling the promise of a pardon if he stayed loyal and did not share what he knew about the president.” Anyone else who did these things would be prosecuted for them. We must ensure that no one is above the law and I thank you for being here, Director Mueller.
Robert Mueller: 04:17 Thank you.
Pramilia J.: 04:17 Yield back.
Rep. Val Demings Questioning
Val Demings: 00:00 Director Mueller, a couple of my colleagues right here wanted to talk to you or ask you about lies. So let’s talk about lies. According to your report, page nine, volume one, witnesses lied to your office and to Congress. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russia interference according to your report. Other than the individuals who plead guilty to crimes based on their lying to you and your team, did other witnesses lie to you?
Robert Mueller: 00:27 I think there are a probably a spectrum of witnesses in terms of those who are not telling the full truth and those who are outright liars.
Val Demings: 00:37 Thank you very much. Outright liars. It is fair to say then that there were limits on what evidence was available to your investigation of both Russia election interference and obstruction of justice?
Robert Mueller: 00:48 That’s true and it’s usually the case.
Val Demings: 00:51 And that lies by Trump campaign officials and administration officials impeded your investigation?
Robert Mueller: 01:00 I would generally agree with that.
Val Demings: 01:02 Thank you so much, Director Mueller. You will be hearing more from me in the next hearing, so I yield the balance of my time to Mr. Correa. Thank you.
Rep. Ken Buck Questioning
Ken Buck: 00:01 Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Mueller, over here.
Robert Mueller: 00:04 Hi.
Ken Buck: 00:05 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 the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and other commendations. You served 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.
Ken Buck: 00:29 But having reviewed your biography, it puzzles me why you handled your duties in this case the way you did. Your 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 prosector is not the representative of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose interest in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done, and that the prosector may strike hard blows, but he is not at liberty to strike foul ones.”
Ken Buck: 01:02 By listing the ten 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.
Ken Buck: 01:23 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 statues.
Ken Buck: 01:47 I looked at the 10 factual situations, and I read the case law, and I have to tell you, just looking at Flynn matter, for example, the four statutes that you cited for possible obstruction, 1503, 1505, 1512(b)(3), and 1512(c)(2), when I look at those, concerning the Flynn matter, 1503 is inapplicable because there wasn’t a grand jury or trial jury empaneled, and Director Comey was not an officer of the court, as defined by the statute.
Ken Buck: 02:19 Section 1505 criminalizes acts that would obstruct or impede administrative proceedings, those before Congress or an administrative agency, the Department of Justice Criminal Resource Manual states that the FBI investigation is not a pending proceeding. 1512(b)(3) talks about intimidation, threats, force to tamper with a witness. General Flynn, at the time, was not a witness, and certainly Director Comey was not a witness.
Ken Buck: 02:46 And 1512(c)(2) talks about tampering with a 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 your report that alleges that the president destroyed any evidence.
Ken Buck: 03:08 So, what I have to ask you, 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?
Robert Mueller: 03:24 Sounds generally accurate.
Ken Buck: 03:26 Okay. 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?
Robert Mueller: 03:52 That’s fair.
Ken Buck: 03:54 Was there sufficient evidence to convict President Trump or anyone else with obstruction of justice?
Robert Mueller: 04:01 We did not make that calculation.
Ken Buck: 04:03 How could you not have made the calculation, with the regulation-
Robert Mueller: 04:06 Because 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.
Ken Buck: 04:16 Okay. 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 not fair.
Robert Mueller: 04:32 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 that one case where the president cannot be charged with a crime.
Ken Buck: 04:53 Okay. But could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?
Robert Mueller: 04:59 Yes.
Ken Buck: 05:00 You believe that you could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?
Robert Mueller: 05:05 Yes.
Ken Buck: 05:06 Ethically? Under the ethical standards?
Robert Mueller: 05:08 Well, I’m not certain because I haven’t looked at the ethical standards, but OLC opinion says that the prosector cannot bring a charge against a sitting president, nonetheless continue the investigation to see if there are any other persons who might be drawn into the conspiracy.
Chairman: 05:26 Time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Rhode Island.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren Questioning
Zoe Lofgren: 00:00 Director Mueller, as you’ve heard from the chairman, we’re mostly going to talk about obstruction of justice today but the investigation of Russia’s attack that started your investigation is why evidence of possible obstruction is serious. To what extent did the Russian government interfere in the 2016 presidential election?
Robert Mueller: 00:21 Could you repeat that, ma’am?
Zoe Lofgren: 00:22 To what extent did the Russian government interfere in the 2016 presidential election?
Robert Mueller: 00:28 Well, particularly when it came to a computer crimes and the like, the government was implicated.
Zoe Lofgren: 00:35 So, you wrote in volume one that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. You also described in your report that the then Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort shared with a Russian operative Kilimnik the campaign strategy for winning democratic votes in Midwestern states in internal polling data of the campaign. Isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:02 Correct.
Zoe Lofgren: 01:04 They also discussed the status of the Trump campaign and Manafort’s strategy for winning democratic votes in Midwestern states. Months before that meeting, Manafort had caused internal data to be shared with Kilimnik, and the sharing continued for some period of time after their August meeting. Isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:23 Accurate.
Zoe Lofgren: 01:24 In fact, your investigation found that Manafort briefed Kilimnik on the state of the Trump campaign and Manafort’s plan to win the election, and that briefing encompassed that campaign’s messaging, its internal polling data. It also included discussion of battleground states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:45 That’s correct.
Zoe Lofgren: 01:46 Did your investigation determine who requested the polling data to be shared with Kilimnik?
Robert Mueller: 01:52 Well, I would direct you to the report and [inaudible 00:01:57] what we have in the report with regard to that particular issue.
Zoe Lofgren: 01:59 We don’t have the redacted version. That’s maybe another reason why we should get that for volume one. Based on your investigation, how could the Russian government have used this campaign polling data to further its sweeping and systematic interference in the 2016 presidential election?
Robert Mueller: 02:15 That’s a little bit out of our path.
Zoe Lofgren: 02:20 Fair enough. Did your investigation find that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning?
Robert Mueller: 02:30 Yes.
Zoe Lofgren: 02:31 Which candidate would that be?
Robert Mueller: 02:35 Well, it would be Trump. The president.
Zoe Lofgren: 02:39 Correct. Now, the Trump campaign wasn’t exactly reluctant to take Russian help. You wrote a it expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts. Isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:51 That’s correct.
Zoe Lofgren: 02:52 Now, what was the investigations determination regarding frequency with which the Trump campaign made contact with the Russian government?
Robert Mueller: 03:05 Well, I would have to refer you to the report on that.
Zoe Lofgren: 03:08 Well, we went through and we counted 126 contacts between Russians or their agents and Trump campaign officials or their associates. So would that sound about right?
Robert Mueller: 03:25 I can say I understand this statistic and believe it. Yeah, I understand that statistic.
Zoe Lofgren: 03:33 Mr. Mueller, I appreciate your being here and your report. From your testimony and the report, I think the American people have learned several things. First, the Russians wanted Trump to win. Second, the Russians went on a sweeping cyber influence campaign. The Russians hacked the DNC and they got the democratic game plan for the election. The Russian campaign chairman met with Russian agents and repeatedly gave them internal data, polling, and messaging in the battleground states. So while the Russians were buying ads and creating propaganda to influence the outcome of the election, they were armed with inside information that they had stolen through hacking from the DNC and that they had been given by the Trump campaign chairman, Mr Manafort. My colleagues will probe the efforts undertaken to keep this information from becoming public, but I think it’s important for the American people to understand the gravity of the underlying problem that your report uncovered. With that, Mr Chairman, I would yield back.
Rep. Karen Bass Questioning
Rep. Karen Bass: 00:01 Thank you Mr. Chair. Director Mueller, as you know, we are focusing on five obstruction episodes today. I would like to ask you about the second of those five obstruction episodes. It is in the section of your report beginning on page 113 of volume two entitled, “The President orders McGahn to deny that the President tried to fire the special counsel.” On January 25th, 2018 the New York Times reported that, “The president had ordered McGahn to have the Department of Justice fire you.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:33 Correct.
Rep. Karen Bass: 00:35 And that story related to the events you already testified about here today, the president’s calls to McGahn to have you removed, correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:43 Correct.
Rep. Karen Bass: 00:44 After the news broke, did the president go on TV and deny the story?
Robert Mueller: 00:48 Do not know.
Rep. Karen Bass: 00:50 In fact, the president said, “Fake news folks, fake news, a typical New York Times fake story,” correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:58 Correct.
Rep. Karen Bass: 01:00 But your investigation actually found substantial evidence that McGahn was ordered by the president to fire you, correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:07 Yes.
Rep. Karen Bass: 01:08 Did the president’s personal lawyer do something the following day in response to that news report?
Robert Mueller: 01:14 I’d refer you to the coverage of this in the report.
Rep. Karen Bass: 01:17 On page 114, “On January 26, 2018 the president’s personal counsel called McGahn’s attorney and said that the president wanted McGahn to put out a statement denying that he had been asked to fire the special counsel.” Did McGahn do what the president asked?
Robert Mueller: 01:38 I refer you to the report.
Rep. Karen Bass: 01:40 Communicating through his personal attorney, McGahn refused because he said, That the Times story was accurate in reporting that the president wanted the special council removed.” Isn’t that right?
Robert Mueller: 01:54 I believe it is, but I refer you again to the report.
Rep. Karen Bass: 01:57 Okay. So Mr. McGahn, through his personal attorney, told the president that he was not going to lie. Is that right?
Robert Mueller: 02:04 True.
Rep. Karen Bass: 02:05 Did the president drop the issue?
Robert Mueller: 02:08 I refer to the write up of this in the report.
Rep. Karen Bass: 02:11 Okay. Next, the president told the White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter to try to pressure McGahn to make a false denial. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:20 That’s correct.
Rep. Karen Bass: 02:21 What did he actually direct Porter to do?
Robert Mueller: 02:24 And then I would send you back to the report.
Rep. Karen Bass: 02:26 Okay. Well on page 113 it says, “The president then directed Porter to tell him again to create a record to make it clear that the president never directed McGahn to fire you.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:42 That is as it’s stated in the report.
Rep. Karen Bass: 02:45 And you found, “The president said he wanted McGahn to write a letter to the file for our records,” correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:52 Correct.
Rep. Karen Bass: 02:54 And to be clear, the president is asking his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to create a record that McGahn believed to be untrue while you were in the midst of investigating the president for obstruction of justice, correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:10 Generally correct.
Rep. Karen Bass: 03:11 And Mr McGahn was an important witness in that investigation, wasn’t he?
Robert Mueller: 03:14 I would have to say yes.
Rep. Karen Bass: 03:16 Did the president tell Porter to threaten McGahn if he didn’t create the written denial?
Robert Mueller: 03:23 I’d refer you to the write up of it in the report.
Rep. Karen Bass: 03:26 In fact, didn’t the president say quote, and this is on page 116, “If he doesn’t write a letter, then maybe I’ll have to get rid of him.”
Robert Mueller: 03:34 Yes.
Rep. Karen Bass: 03:35 Did Porter deliver that threat?
Robert Mueller: 03:39 I again refer you to the discussion, it’s found on page 115.
Rep. Karen Bass: 03:45 Okay. But the president still didn’t give up, did he? So the president told McGahn directly to deny that the president told him to have you fired. Can you tell me exactly what happened?
Robert Mueller: 04:00 I can’t beyond what’s in the report.
Rep. Karen Bass: 04:02 Well, on page 116 it says the president met him in the Oval Office. “The president began the Oval Office meeting by telling McGahn that the New York Times story didn’t look good and McGahn needed to correct it.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:20 It’s correct, so as it’s written in the report, yes.
Rep. Karen Bass: 04:23 The president asked McGahn whether he would do a correction and McGahn said no. Correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:31 That’s accurate.
Rep. Karen Bass: 04:32 Well, Mr. Mueller, thank you for your investigation uncovering this very disturbing evidence. My friend, Mr. Richmond, will have additional questions on the subject. However, it is clear to me if anyone else had ordered a witness to create a false record and cover up acts that are subject of a law enforcement investigation, that person would be facing criminal charges. I yield back my time.
Rep. Cedric Richmond Questioning
Cedric Richmond: 00:00 Mr. Mueller, Congressman Dutch addressed Trump’s request to McGahn to fire you. Representative Bass talked about the president’s question of McGahn to deny the fact the president made that request. I want to pick up where they left off, and I want to pick up with the president’s personal lawyer. In fact, there was evidence that the president’s personal lawyer was alarmed at the prospect of the president meeting with Mr. McGahn to discuss Mr. McGahn’s refusal to deny the New York Times report about the president trying to fire you. Correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:39 Correct.
Cedric Richmond: 00:42 In fact, the president’s council was so alarmed by the prospect of the president’s meeting with McGahn that he called Mr. McGahn’s council and said that McGahn could not resign no matter what happened in the Oval Office that day. Correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:58 Correct.
Cedric Richmond: 01:00 So, it’s accurate to say that the president knew that he was asking McGahn to deny facts that McGahn, quote, had repeatedly said were accurate, unquote. Isn’t that right?
Robert Mueller: 01:11 Right.
Cedric Richmond: 01:15 Your investigation also found, quote, by the time of the Oval Office meeting with the president, the president was aware, one that McGahn did not think the story was false, two, did not want to issue a statement or create a written record denying facts that McGahn believed to be true. The president nevertheless persisted and asked McGahn to repudiate facts that McGahn had repeatedly said were accurate. Isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:44 Generally true.
Cedric Richmond: 01:44 I believe that’s on page 119. Thank you. In other words, the president was trying to force McGahn to say something that McGahn did not believe to be true.
Robert Mueller: 01:56 That’s accurate.
Cedric Richmond: 01:58 I want to reference you to a slide, and it’s on page 120. It says, “Substantial evidence indicates that, in repeatedly urging McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the special council terminated, the president acted for the purpose of influencing McGahn’s account in order to deflect or prevent further scrutiny of the president’s conduct towards the investigation.”
Robert Mueller: 02:29 That’s accurate.
Cedric Richmond: 02:31 Can you explain what you meant there?
Robert Mueller: 02:34 I’m just going to leave it as it appears in the report.
Cedric Richmond: 02:38 It’s fair to say the president tried to protect himself by asking staff to falsify records relevant to an ongoing investigation.
Robert Mueller: 02:46 I would say that’s generally a summary.
Cedric Richmond: 02:49 Would you say that action, the president tried to hamper the investigation by asking staff to falsify records relevant to your investigation?
Robert Mueller: 03:00 I’m just going to have to refer you to the report if I could for review of that episode.
Cedric Richmond: 03:06 Thank you. Also, the president’s attempt to get McGahn to create a false written record were related to Mr. Trump’s concerns about your obstruction of justice inquiry, correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:17 I believe that to be true.
Cedric Richmond: 03:19 In fact, at that same Oval Office meeting, did the president also ask McGahn why he had told, quote, why he had told special councils office investigators that the president told him to have you removed, unquote?
Robert Mueller: 03:34 And what was the question, Sir, if I might …
Cedric Richmond: 03:36 Let me go to the next one. The president, quote, criticized McGahn for telling your office about the June 17th, 2017 events when he told McGahn to have you removed. Correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:49 Correct.
Cedric Richmond: 03:53 In other words, the president was criticizing his White House council for telling law enforcement officials what he believed to be the truth.
Robert Mueller: 04:02 Again, go back to the text of the report.
Cedric Richmond: 04:07 Well, let me go a little bit further. Would it have been a crime if Mr. McGahn had lied to you about the president ordering him to fire you?
Robert Mueller: 04:15 I don’t want to speculate.
Cedric Richmond: 04:18 Okay. Is it true that you charged multiple people associated with the president for lying to you during your investigation?
Robert Mueller: 04:24 That is accurate.
Cedric Richmond: 04:26 The president also complained that his staff were taking notes during the meeting about firing McGahn, is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:36 That’s what the report says. Yeah, the report.
Cedric Richmond: 04:40 But in fact, it’s completely appropriate for the president’s staff, especially his councils, to take notes during the meeting, correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:47 I rely on the wording of the report.
Cedric Richmond: 04:51 Well, thank you, Director Mueller for your investigation into whether the president attempted to obstruct justice by ordering his White House council Don McGahn to lie to protect the president and then to create a false record about it. It is clear that any other person who engaged in such conduct would be charged with a crime. We will continue our investigation, and we will hold the president accountable because no one is above the law.
Robert Mueller: 05:14 Thank you.
Rep. Deutch Questioning
Mr Deutch: 00:00 Director, Mueller, the most important question I have for you today is why. Director Mueller, why did the President of the United States want you fired?
Robert Mueller: 00:12 Oh, I can’t answer that question.
Mr Deutch: 00:17 Well, on page 89 in your report on volume two, you said, and I quote, “Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel’s oversight of investigations that involve the President’s conduct and, most immediately, to reports that the President was being investigated for potential obstruction of justice.” Close quote.
Mr Deutch: 00:51 Director Mueller, you found evidence as you lay out in your report that the President wanted to fire you because you were investigating him for obstruction of justice. Isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:04 That’s what it says in the report, yes, and I go, I stand by in the report.
Mr Deutch: 01:09 Director Mueller. That shouldn’t happen in America. No president should be able to escape investigation by abusing his power, but that’s what you testified to in your report. The President ordered you fired. The White House Council knew it was wrong. The President knew it was wrong. In your report, it says there’s also evidence the President knew he should not have made those calls to McGahn but the President did it anyway. He did it anyway. Anyone else who blatantly interfered with a criminal investigation like yours would be arrested and indicted on charges of obstruction of justice. Director Mueller, you determined that you were barred from indicting a sitting president. We’ve already talked about that today. That is exactly why this committee must hold the President accountable.
Rep. Deutch Questioning (continued)
Ted Deutch: 00:02 Director Mueller, I’d like to get back to your findings covering June of 2017. There was a bombshell article that reported that the President of the United States was personally under investigation for obstruction of justice and you said in your report on page 90, volume two, and I quote, “News of the obstruction investigation prompted the President to call McGahn and seek to have the special counsel removed.” Close quote.
Ted Deutch: 00:26 And then in your report you wrote about multiple calls from the President to White House Counsel Don McGahn, and regarding the second call you wrote, and I quote, “McGahn recalled that the President was more direct, saying something like, ‘Call Rod, tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the Special Counsel.’ McGahn recalled the President telling him, ‘Muller has to go,’ and, ‘Call me back when you do it.'”
Ted Deutch: 00:55 Director Mueller, did McGahn understand what the President was ordering him to do?
Robert Mueller: 01:00 I direct you to what we have written in the report in terms of characterizing his feelings.
Ted Deutch: 01:04 And in the report it says, “McGahn understood the President to be saying that the Special Counsel had to be removed.” You also said on page 86 that, “McGahn considered the President’s request to be an inflection point and he wanted to hit the brakes and he felt trapped and McGahn decided he had to resign.” McGahn took action to prepare to resign, isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:31 I direct you again to the report.
Ted Deutch: 01:33 And in fact, that very day he went to the White House and quoting your report, you said, “He then drove to the office to pack his belongings and submit his resignation letter.”
Robert Mueller: 01:46 That is directly from the report.
Ted Deutch: 01:47 It is. And before he resigned, however, he called the President’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and he called the President’s senior advisor, Steve Bannon. Do you recall what McGahn told them?
Robert Mueller: 02:03 What’s said will appear in the report.
Ted Deutch: 02:05 It is. It is. And it says on page 87, “Priebus recalled that McGahn said that the President asked him to do crazy expletive.” In other words, crazy stuff. The White House Counsel thought that the President’s request was completely out of bounds. He said the President asked him to do something crazy, it was wrong, and he was prepared to resign over it. Now, these are extraordinarily troubling events, but you found White House Counsel McGahn to be a credible witness, isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:43 Correct.
Ted Deutch: 02:46 Director Mueller, the most important question I have for you today is why. Director Mueller, why did the President of the United States want you fired?
Robert Mueller: 02:59 Oh, I can’t answer that question.
Ted Deutch: 03:04 Well, on page 89 in your report, on volume two, you said, and I quote, “Substantial evidence indicates that the president’s attempts to remove the special counsel were linked to the special council’s oversight of investigations that involve the president’s conduct and most immediately to reports that the president was being investigated for potential obstruction of justice.”
Ted Deutch: 03:38 Director Mueller, you found evidence, as you lay out in your report, that the president wanted to fire you because you were investigating him for obstruction of justice. Isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:51 That’s what it says in the report. Yes. And I stand behind the report.
Ted Deutch: 03:56 Director Muller, that shouldn’t happen in America. No president should be able to escape investigation by abusing his power. But that’s what you testified to in your report. The president ordered you fired. The White House Council knew it was wrong. The president knew it was wrong. In your report, it says there’s also evidence the president should not have made those calls to McGahn, but the president did it anyway. He did it anyway. Anyone else who blatantly interfered with a criminal investigation like yours would be arrested and indicted on charges of obstruction of justice. Director Mueller, you determined that you were barred from indicting a sitting president. We’ve already talked about that today. That is exactly why this committee must hold the president accountable.
Rep. Madeleine Dean Questioning
Madeleine Dean: 00:00 Good morning, Director Mueller. Madeleine Dean.
Robert Mueller: 00:06 Ah, gotcha. Sorry.
Madeleine Dean: 00:07 Thank you. I wanted to ask you about public confusion connected with Attorney General Barr’s release of your report. I will be quoting your March 27th letter. Sir, in that letter, and at several other times, did you convey to the Attorney General that the “Introductions and executive summaries of our two volume report accurately summarize this office’s work and conclusions.”?
Robert Mueller: 00:35 I’d have to say that the letter itself speaks for itself.
Madeleine Dean: 00:39 And those were your words in that letter. Continuing with your letter, you wrote to the Attorney General that “The summary letter that the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24th did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:00 Again, I rely on the letter itself for its terms.
Madeleine Dean: 01:04 Thank you. What was it about the reports, context, nature, substance, that the Attorney General’s letter did not capture?
Robert Mueller: 01:12 I think we captured that in a March 27th responsive letter.
Madeleine Dean: 01:17 And this is from the 27th letter. What were some of the specifics that you thought-
Robert Mueller: 01:22 I direct you to the letter itself.
Madeleine Dean: 01:24 Okay. You finished that letter by saying, “There is now public confusion about critical aspects as a result of our investigation.” Could you tell us specifically some of the public confusion you identified?
Robert Mueller: 01:39 Not generally. Again, I go back to the letter. The letter speaks for itself
Madeleine Dean: 01:41 And could Attorney General Barr have avoided public confusion if he had released your summaries and executive introduction and summaries?
Robert Mueller: 01:49 I don’t feel comfortable speculating on that.
Madeleine Dean: 01:52 Shifting to May 30th, the Attorney General in an interview with CBS News said that you could have reached … “You could have reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity,” on the part of the President. Did the Attorney General or his staff ever tell you that he thought you should make a decision on whether the president engaged in criminal activity?
Robert Mueller: 02:13 I’m not going to speak to what the Attorney General was thinking or saying.
Madeleine Dean: 02:19 If the Attorney General had directed you or ordered you to make a decision on whether the President engaged in criminal activity, would you have so done?
Robert Mueller: 02:29 I can’t answer that question in the vacuum.
Madeleine Dean: 02:33 Director Mueller, again, I thank you for being here. I agree with your March 27th letter. There was public confusion, and the President took full advantage of that confusion by falsely claiming your report found no obstruction. Let us be clear, your report did not exonerate the president. Instead, it provided substantial evidence of obstruction of justice, leaving congress to do its duty. We shall not shrink from that duty. I yield back.
Rep. Ben Cline Questioning
Ben Cline: 00:00 Thank you, Mr Chairman.
Ben Cline: 00:01 Mr. Mueller, we’ve heard a lot about what you’re not going to talk about today, so let’s talk about something that you should be able to talk about. The law itself, the underlying obstruction statute, and your creative legal analysis of the statutes in Volume 2.
Ben Cline: 00:15 Particularly, under interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512 C, section 1512 C is an obstruction of justice statute created as part of auditing a financial regulations for public companies. And as you write on page 164 of Volume 2, this provision was added as a floor amendment in the Senate and explained as closing a certain loophole with respect to document shredding. And to read the statute, whoever corruptly alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record document or other object or attempts to do so with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding, or otherwise obstructs influences or impedes any official proceeding or attempts to do so shall be fined under the statute or in prison not more than 20 years or both.
Ben Cline: 01:00 Your analysis and application of the statute proposes to give Clause C-2 a much broader interpretation than commonly used. First, your analysis proposes to read Clause C-2 in isolation, reading it as a freestanding, all-encompassing provision prohibiting any act influencing a proceeding if done with an improper motive.
Ben Cline: 01:17 And second, your analysis of the statute proposes to apply this sweeping prohibition to lawful acts taken by public officials exercising their discretionary powers if those acts influence a proceeding.
Ben Cline: 01:31 So, Mr. Mueller, I’d ask you … in analyzing the obstruction, you state that you recognize that the Department of Justice and the courts have not definitively resolve these issues. Correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:43 Correct.
Ben Cline: 01:45 You’d agree that not everyone in the Justice Department agreed with your legal theory of the obstruction of justice statutes, correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:51 I’m not going to be involved in discussion on that at this juncture.
Ben Cline: 01:55 In fact, the Attorney General himself disagrees with your interpretation of the law. Correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:00 I leave that to the Attorney General to identify it.
Ben Cline: 02:03 And you would agree that prosecutors sometimes incorrectly apply the law, correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:07 I would have to agree with that one. Yes.
Ben Cline: 02:08 And members of your legal team, in fact, have had convictions overturned because they were based on an incorrect legal theory, correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:14 I don’t know to what you advert. We’ve all-
Ben Cline: 02:17 Well-
Robert Mueller: 02:17 … who have spent time in the trenches trying cases have not won every one of those cases.
Ben Cline: 02:21 Well, let me ask you about one in particular. One of your top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, obtained a conviction against auditing firm Arthur Andersen, lower court, which was subsequently overturned in a unanimous Supreme Court decision that rejected the legal theory advanced by Weissmann, correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:34 Well, I’m not going to delve into the-
Ben Cline: 02:36 Well, let me read from that. Maybe it’ll [inaudible 00:02:38] your memory.
Robert Mueller: 02:38 May I just finish my answer?
Ben Cline: 02:41 Yes.
Robert Mueller: 02:41 To say that I’m not going to be getting involved in the discussion on that. I will refer you to that citation that you gave me at the outset for the lengthy discussion on just what you’re talking about. And to the extent that I have anything to say about it, it is what we have already put into the report on that.
Ben Cline: 02:58 And I am reading from your report when discussing this section, and I’ll read from the decision of the Supreme Court unanimously reversing Mr. Weissmann when he said, “Indeed, it’s striking how little culpability the instructions required. For example, the jury was told that even a petitioner honestly and sincerely believed his conduct was lawful, the jury could convict. The instructions also diluted the meaning of corruptly such that it covered innocent conduct.”
Robert Mueller: 03:21 Well, let me just say I put a word for-
Ben Cline: 03:22 Let me move on. I have limited time.
Robert Mueller: 03:24 Excuse-
Ben Cline: 03:24 Your report takes the broadest possible reading of this provision and applying it to the president’s official acts. And I’m concerned about the implications of your theory for over criminalizing conduct by public officials and private citizens alike. To emphasize how broad your theory of liability is, I want to ask you about a few examples.
Ben Cline: 03:39 On October 11th, 2015, during the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, President Obama said, “I don’t think it posed a national security problem.” And he later said, “I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”
Ben Cline: 03:53 Assuming for a moment that his comments did influence the investigation, couldn’t President Obama be charged under your interpretation with obstruction of justice?
Robert Mueller: 04:02 Well, again, I refer you to the report. But let me say with Andrew Weissmann, who is one of the more talented attorneys that we have on board, he is.
Ben Cline: 04:10 Okay. Well, I’ll take that-
Robert Mueller: 04:11 Over a period of time, he has run a number of units-
Ben Cline: 04:16 I have very limited time.
Robert Mueller: 04:18 [crosstalk 00:04:18] crime.
Ben Cline: 04:18 In August 2015, a very senior DOJ official called FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe expressing concern that FBI agents were still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe. The DOJ official was apparently “very pissed off,” quote unquote. McCabe questioned this official asking, “Are you telling me I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?” To which the official replied, “Of course not. This seems to be a clear example of somebody within the executive branch attempting to influence an FBI investigation.”
Ben Cline: 04:45 Under your theory, couldn’t that person be charged with obstruction as long as the prosecutor could come up with a potentially corrupt motive?
Robert Mueller: 04:53 I refer you to our lengthy dissertation on exactly those issues that appears at the end of the report.
Ben Cline: 04:59 Mr. Mueller, I’d argue that it says above the Supreme Court, “Equal justice under law,” or not.
Speaker 3: 05:04 Time of the gentleman has expired.
Ben Cline: 05:05 Not stretched-
Speaker 3: 05:06 Our intent was-
Rep. Lou Correa Questioning
Rep. Lou Correa: 00:01 Mr. Mueller. First of all, let me welcome you. Thank you for your service to our country. You are a hero, Vietnam War vet, wounded war vet. We won’t forget your service to our country.
Robert Mueller: 00:11 Thank you, sir.
Rep. Lou Correa: 00:11 If I may begin because of time limits. We have gone in depth on only five possible episodes of obstruction. There’s so much more and I want to focus in on another section of obstruction, which is the President’s conduct concerning Michael Flynn, the president’s national security advisor. In early 20-7, the White House Council and the President were informed that Mr. Flynn had lied to government authorities about his communications with the Russian ambassador during the Trump campaign in transition. Is this correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:46 Correct.
Rep. Lou Correa: 00:48 If a hostile nation knows that a US official has lied publicly, that can be used to blackmail that government official, correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:57 I’m going to speak to that. I don’t disagree with it necessarily, but I’m not going to speak to any more to that issue.
Rep. Lou Correa: 01:03 Thank you very much, sir. Flynn resigned on February 13, 2016 and the very next day when the President was having lunch with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, did the President say, “Now, that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:23 Correct.
Rep. Lou Correa: 01:25 And is it true that Christie responded by saying, “No way and this Russia thing is far from over?”
Robert Mueller: 01:34 That’s the way we have it in the report.
Rep. Lou Correa: 01:37 Thank you. And after President met with Christie later that same day, the President arranged to meet with then FBI director James Comey alone in the Oval Office, correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:51 Correct, particularly if you have the citation to the-
Rep. Lou Correa: 01:55 Page 39, 40 Volume 2.
Robert Mueller: 01:58 Thank you very much.
Rep. Lou Correa: 02:00 And according to Comey, the President told him “I hope you can see your way to clear to letting this thing go, to letting Flynn go. He’s a good guy and I hope you can let it go.” Page 40, Volume 2.
Robert Mueller: 02:18 Accurate.
Rep. Lou Correa: 02:19 What did Comey understand the President to be asking?
Robert Mueller: 02:22 I’m not going to get into what was in Mr. Comey’s mind.
Rep. Lou Correa: 02:26 Comey understood this to be a direction because of the President’s position and the circumstances of the one-to-one meeting, Page 40, Volume 2.
Robert Mueller: 02:36 Well, I understand it’s in the report and I support it as being in the report.
Rep. Lou Correa: 02:42 Thank you, sir. Even though the President publicly denied telling Comey to drop the investigation, you found “Substantial evidence corroborating Comey’s account over the President’s.” Is this correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:57 Correct.
Rep. Lou Correa: 02:59 The President fired Comey on May 9th. Is that correct, sir?
Robert Mueller: 03:03 I believe that’s the accurate date.
Rep. Lou Correa: 03:06 That’s Page 77, Volume 2. You found substantial evidence that the catalyst for the President’s firing of Comey was Comey’s “unwillingness to publicly state that the President was not personally under investigation.”
Robert Mueller: 03:23 I’m not going to delve more into the details of what happened. If it’s in the report then I’m supportive because it’s already been reviewed and appropriately appears in the report.
Rep. Lou Correa: 03:31 And that’s page 75 Volume 2.
Robert Mueller: 03:33 Thank you.
Rep. Lou Correa: 03:34 Thank you. And in fact, the very next day, the President told the Russian foreign minister, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. I’m not under investigation.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:55 If that’s what was written in the report. Yes.
Speaker 3: 03:58 Time of the gentleman has expired.
Rep. Lou Correa: 04:01 Thank you, sir.
Speaker 3: 04:01 Gentleman from Virginia.
Rep. John Ratcliffe Questioning
John Ratcliffe: 00:00 Good morning, Director. If you’ll let me quickly summarize your opening statement this morning, you said in volume one on the issue of conspiracy, the Special Counsel determined that the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government, its election interference activities. And then in volume two, for reasons that you explain, the Special Counsel did not make a determination on whether there was an obstruction of justice crime committed by the President. Is that fair?
Robert Mueller: 00:27 Yes, sir.
John Ratcliffe: 00:27 All right. Now, in explaining the Special Counsel did not make what you called a “traditional prosecution or declamation decision”, the report on the bottom of page two of volume two reads as follows: “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
John Ratcliffe: 00:54 Now, I read that correctly?
Robert Mueller: 00:56 Yes.
John Ratcliffe: 00:57 All right. Now, your report, and today you said that all times the Special Counsel team operated under was guided by and followed Justice Department policies and principles. So which DOJ policy or principle sets forth a legal standard that an investigated person is not exonerated if their innocence from criminal conduct is not conclusively determined?
Robert Mueller: 01:19 Can you repeat that last part of that question?
John Ratcliffe: 01:21 Yeah. Which DOJ policy or principle set forths a legal standard that an investigated person is not exonerated if their innocence from criminal conduct is not conclusively determined? Where does that language come from, Director? Where is the DOJ policy that says that?
John Ratcliffe: 01:41 Let me make it easier, is there-
Robert Mueller: 01:44 I’m sorry, go ahead.
John Ratcliffe: 01:45 Can you give me an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?
Robert Mueller: 01:55 I cannot, but this is a unique situation.
John Ratcliffe: 01:57 You can’t, time is short, I’ve got five minutes, let’s just leave it at you can’t find because I’ll tell you why. It doesn’t exist. The Special Counsel’s job, nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or that the Special Counsel report should determine whether or not to exonerate him. It’s not in any of the documents, it’s not in your appointment order, it’s not in the Special Counsel regulations, it’s not in the OLC Opinions, it’s not in the Justice manual, and it’s not in the Principles of Federal Prosecution.
John Ratcliffe: 02:23 Nowhere do those words appear together, because, respectfully, respectfully, Director, it was not the Special Counsel’s job to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or to exonerate him. Because the bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence. It exists for everyone, everyone is entitled to it, including sitting Presidents. And because there is a presumption of innocence, prosecutors never, ever need to conclusively determine it.
John Ratcliffe: 02:53 Now, Director, the Special Counsel applied this inverted burden of proof that I can’t find and you said doesn’t exist anywhere in the Department policies, and you used it to write a report. And the very first line of your report, the very first line of your report says, and you read this morning, it authorizes the Special Counsel to provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel. That’s the very first word of your report, right?
Robert Mueller: 03:25 That’s correct.
John Ratcliffe: 03:27 Here’s the problem, Director. The Special Counsel didn’t do that. On volume one, you did. On volume two, with respect to potential obstruction of justice, the Special Counsel made neither a prosecution decision or a declination decision. You made no decision, you told us this morning and in your report that you made no determination.
John Ratcliffe: 03:49 So respectfully, Director, you didn’t follow the Special Counsel regulations. It clearly says, “Write a confidential report about decisions reached.” Nowhere in here does it say, “Write a report about decisions that weren’t reached.”
John Ratcliffe: 04:05 You wrote 180 pages, 180 pages about decisions that weren’t reached, about potential crimes that weren’t charged or decided. And respectfully, respectfully, by doing that, you managed to violate every principle and the most sacred of traditions about prosecutors not offering extra prosecutorial analysis about potential crimes that aren’t charged.
John Ratcliffe: 04:29 So Americans need to know this as they listen to the Democrats and Socialists on the other side of the aisle, as they do dramatic readings from this report, that volume two of this report was not authorized under the law to be written. It was written to a legal standard that does not exist at the Justice Department. And it was written in violation of every DOJ principle about extra prosecutorial commentary.
John Ratcliffe: 04:54 I agree with the Chairman this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not, but he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where volume two of this report puts him…
Rep. Hank Johnson Questioning
Hank Johnson: 00:00 Thank you, director Mueller I’d like to get us back on track here. Your investigation found that president Trump directed White House counsel, Don McGahn to fire you isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:14 True.
Hank Johnson: 00:15 And the president claimed that he wanted to fire you because you had supposed conflicts of interest isn’t that, correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:22 True.
Hank Johnson: 00:23 Now you had no conflicts of interests that required your removal isn’t that a fact?
Robert Mueller: 00:28 Correct.
Hank Johnson: 00:28 And in fact, Don McGahn advised the president that the asserted conflicts were, in his words, silly and not real conflicts. Isn’t that true?
Robert Mueller: 00:39 I have never referred to the report on that episode.
Hank Johnson: 00:42 Well, page 85 of volume two speaks to that, and also director Mueller, DOJ ethics officials confirmed that you had no conflicts that would prevent you from serving as special counsel isn’t that, correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:56 That’s correct.
Hank Johnson: 00:57 But despite Don McGahn and the Department of Justice guidance, around May 23rd, 2017 the president “prodded” McGahn, to complain to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, about these supposed conflicts of interests, correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:17 Correct.
Hank Johnson: 01:18 And, McGahn declined to call Rosenstein or Rosenstein, I’m sorry. Telling the president that, “It would look like still trying to meddle in the investigation, and knocking out Mueller would be another fact used to claim obstruction of justice,” isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:37 Generally so, yes.
Hank Johnson: 01:39 And in other words, director Mueller, the White House counsel told the president that if he tried to remove you, that that could be another basis to allege that the president was obstructing justice, correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:53 That is generally correct, yes.
Hank Johnson: 01:55 Now I’d like to review what happened after the president was warned about obstructing justice. On Tuesday, June-
Robert Mueller: 02:04 I’m sorry congressman do you have a citation for that?
Hank Johnson: 02:09 Yes. Volume two, page 81 –
Robert Mueller: 02:13 Thank you.
Hank Johnson: 02:14 … And 82. Now I’d like to review what happened after the president was warned about obstructing justice. It’s true that on Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 the president dictated a press statement stating he had “No intention of firing you,” correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:33 Correct.
Hank Johnson: 02:35 But the following day, June 14th, the media reported for the first time, that you were investigating the president for obstructing of justice, correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:46 Correct.
Hank Johnson: 02:48 And then after learning for the first time that he was under investigation, the very next day the president “issued” a series of tweets acknowledging the existence of the obstruction investigation, and criticizing it isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:03 Generally so.
Hank Johnson: 03:04 And then, on Saturday June 17th, two days later, the president called Don McGahn at home from Camp David on a Saturday to talk about you isn’t that, correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:18 Correct.
Hank Johnson: 03:19 What was the significant about that first weekend phone call that Don McGahn took from president Trump?
Robert Mueller: 03:29 I’m going to ask you to rely on what we wrote about those instance.
Hank Johnson: 03:32 Well you wrote in your report that on, at page 85 volume two, that on Saturday, June 17th, 2017, the president called McGahn at home to have the special counsel removed. Now did the President call Don McGahn more than once that day?
Robert Mueller: 03:53 Well, I gave a-
Hank Johnson: 03:54 I think it was too close.
Speaker 3: 03:57 Talk into the mic please.
Robert Mueller: 03:57 I’m sorry about that.
Hank Johnson: 03:58 On page 85 of your report, you wrote “On the first call, McGahn recalled that the president said something like, “You got to do this, you got to call Rod,”” correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:11 Correct.
Hank Johnson: 04:12 And your investigation and report found that Don McGahn was perturbed, to use your words, By the president’s request to call Rod Rosenstein to fire him, isn’t that correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:24 Well, there was a continuous colicky, it was a continuous involvement of Don McGahn-
Hank Johnson: 04:33 And he-
Robert Mueller: 04:34 … responding to the presidents entreaties.
Hank Johnson: 04:36 And he did not want to put himself in the middle of that. He did not want to have a role in asking the attorney general to fire the special counsel, correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:48 Well, I would, again refer to you to the report and the way it is characterized in the report.
Hank Johnson: 04:54 Thank you. At volume two, page 85, it states that, he didn’t want to have the attorney general … He didn’t want to have a role in trying to fire the attorney general. So at this point, I [inaudible 00:05:09] you’re back.
Rep. Jackson Lee Questioning
Ms. Jackson Lee: 00:00 Thank you Mr Chairman. Director Mueller. Good morning. Your exchange with the gentlelady from California demonstrates what is at stake. The Trump campaign chair, Paul Manafort was passing sensitive voter information and poller data to a Russian operative. And there were so many other ways that Russia subverted out democracy. Together with the evidence in Volume One I cannot think of a more serious need to investigate. So now I’m going to ask you some questions about obstruction of justice as it relates to Volume Two. On page 12 of Volume Two you state, “We determined that there were sufficient factual and legal basis to further investigate potential obstruction of justice issues involving the president”. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:48 And do you have the citations ma’am?
Ms. Jackson Lee: 00:50 Page 12 Volume Two.
Robert Mueller: 00:54 And which portion of that page?
Ms. Jackson Lee: 00:56 That is, “We determined that there was a sufficient factual and legal basis to further investigate potential obstruction of justice issues involving the president”. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:07 Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 01:08 Your report also describes at least 10 separate instances of possible obstruction of justice that were investigated by you and your team. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:16 Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 01:17 In fact, the table of contents serves as a very good guide of some of the acts of that obstruction of justice that you investigated, and I put it up on the screen. On page 157 of Volume Two you described those acts and they range from the president’s effort to curtail the special counsel’s investigation, the president’s further efforts to have the attorney general take over the investigation, the president’s orders, Don McGahn to deny that the president tried to fire the special counsel and many others. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:49 Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 01:51 I direct you now to what you wrote, Director Mueller, “The president’s pattern of conduct as a whole sheds light on the nature of the president’s acts and the inferences that can be drawn about his intent”. Does that mean you have to investigate all of his conduct to ascertain true motive?
Robert Mueller: 02:10 No.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 02:11 And when you talk about the president’s pattern of conduct that are include the 10 possible acts of obstruction that you investigated, is that correct? When you talk about the president’s pattern of conduct, that would include the 10 possible acts of obstruction that you investigated? Correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:25 I direct you to the report for how that is characterized.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 02:30 Thank you. Let me go to the screen again. And for each of those 10 potential instances of obstruction of justice, you analyze three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice and obstructive acts, a nexus between the act and an official proceeding, and corrupt intent. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:48 Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 02:48 You wrote on page 178 Volume Two in your report about corrupt intent, “Actions by the president to end a criminal investigation into his own conduct to protect against personal embarrassment or legal liability would constitute a core example of corruptly motivated conduct”. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:08 Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 03:09 To the screen again, even with the evidence you did find, is it true, as you note on page 76 of Volume Two, that “The evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the president personally that the president could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to legal, personal and political concerns”?
Robert Mueller: 03:31 I rely on the language with the report.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 03:33 Is that relevant to potential obstruction of justice? Is that relevant to potential obstruction of justice?
Robert Mueller: 03:39 Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 03:40 You further elaborate on page 157 “Obstruction of justice can be motivated by a desire to protect non-criminal personal interests to protect against investigations where underlying criminal liability falls into a gray area or to avoid personal embarrassment”. Is that correct?
Speaker 3: 03:55 Yes.
Robert Mueller: 03:58 I have on the screen…
Ms. Jackson Lee: 04:01 Is that correct on the screen?
Robert Mueller: 04:02 Can you repeat the question now that I have the language on the screen?
Ms. Jackson Lee: 04:07 Is it correct? As you further elaborate, “Obstruction of justice can be motivated by direct desire to protect non-criminal personal interests to protect against investigations where underlying criminal liability falls into a gray area”-
Robert Mueller: 04:19 Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 04:20 “Or to avoid”. Is that true?
Robert Mueller: 04:21 Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 04:21 And is it true that the impact? Pardon?
Robert Mueller: 04:25 Can you read the last question?
Ms. Jackson Lee: 04:30 The last question was [crosstalk 00:04:28]-
Robert Mueller: 04:31 I make certain I got it accurate.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 04:31 No. The last question was the language on the screen, asking you if that’s correct.
Robert Mueller: 04:38 Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee: 04:39 Okay. Does a conviction of obstruction of justice result potentially in a lot of years of time in jail.
Robert Mueller: 04:50 Yes. Well, again, can you repeat the question just to make certain that I have it accurate?
Ms. Jackson Lee: 04:58 Does obstruction of justice warrant a lot of time in a jail if you were convicted?
Robert Mueller: 05:03 Yes.
Rep. Mike Johnson Questioning
Mike Johnson: 00:00 Mr. Mueller, you’ve been asked over here on the far right, sir. You’ve been asked a lot of questions here today and to be frank, you performed as most of us expected. You have stuck closely to your report and you have declined to answer many of our questions on both sides. As the closer for the Republican side, I know you’re glad to get to the close, I want to summarize the highlights of what we have heard and what we know. You spent two years and nearly 30 million tax payer dollars in unlimited resources to prepare a nearly 450 page report which you described today as very thorough. Millions of Americans today maintain genuine concerns about your work in large part because of the infamous and widely publicized bias of your investigating team members, which we now know included 14 Democrats and zero Republicans. Campaign finance reports later showed …
Robert Mueller: 00:46 Can I?
Mike Johnson: 00:46 That team. Excuse me, it’s my time. That team of Democrat investigators you hired donated more than $60,000 to the Hillary Clinton campaign and other Democratic candidates. Your team also included Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, which had been discussed today, and they had the lurid text messages that confirmed they openly mocked and hated Donald Trump and his supporters and they vowed to take him out. Mr. Ratcliffe asked you earlier this morning, quote, “Can you give me an example other than Donald Trump where the justice department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?” unquote. You answered, “I cannot.” Sir, that is unprecedented. The president believed from the very beginning that you and your special counsel team had serious conflicts. This is stated in the report and acknowledged by everybody, and yet President Trump cooperated fully with the investigation. He knew he had done nothing wrong and he encouraged all witnesses to cooperate with the investigation and produce more than 1.4 million pages of information and allowed over 40 witnesses who were directly affiliated with the White House or his campaign.
Mike Johnson: 01:50 Your report acknowledges on page 61, volume 2 that a volume of evidence exist of the president telling many people privately, quote, “The president was concerned about the impact of the Russian investigation on his ability to govern and to address important foreign relations issues and even matters of national security.” And on page 174, volume 2 your report also acknowledges that the Supreme Court has held, quote, “The president’s removal powers are at their zenith with respect to principal officers. That is officers who must be appointed by the president and who report to him directly. The president’s exclusive and illimitable power of removal of those principal officers furthers the president’s ability to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed,” unquote. And that would even include the attorney general. Look, in spite of all of that, nothing ever happened to stop or impede your special counsel’s investigation. Nobody was fired by the president, nothing was curtailed.
Mike Johnson: 02:41 And the investigation continued unencumbered for 22 long months. As you finally concluded in volume 1, the evidence, quote, “Did not establish that the president was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” unquote. And the evidence, quote, “Did not establish that the president or those close to him were involved in any Russian conspiracies or had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official,” unquote. Over those 22 long months that your investigation dragged along, the president became increasingly frustrated, as many of the American people did, with its effects on our country and and his ability to govern. He vented about this to his lawyer and his close associates and he even shared his frustrations, as we all know on Twitter. But while the president’s social media accounts might have influenced some in the media or the opinion of some of the American people, none of those audiences were targets or witnesses in your investigation.
Mike Johnson: 03:30 The president never affected anybody’s testimony. He never demanded to end the investigation, or demanded that you be terminated and he never misled Congress, the DOJ, or the special counsel. Those, sir, are undisputed facts. There will be a lot of discussion I predict today and great frustration throughout the country about the fact that you wouldn’t answer any questions here about the origins of this whole charade, which was the infamous Christopher Steele dossier, now proven to be totally bogus, even though it is listed and specifically referenced in your report. But as our hearing is concluding, we apparently will get no comment on that from you. Mr Mueller, there’s one primary reason why you were called here today and by the … By the Democrat majority of our committee. Our colleagues on the other side of the isle just want political cover. They desperately wanted you today to tell them they should impeach the president, but the one thing you have said very clearly today is that your report is complete and thorough and you completely agree with and stand by its recommendations and all of its content. Is that right?
Robert Mueller: 04:24 True.
Mike Johnson: 04:25 Mr. Mueller, one last important question. Your report does not recommend impeachment, does it?
Robert Mueller: 04:32 I’m not going to talk about recommendations.
Mike Johnson: 04:35 It does not conclude that impeachment would be appropriate, right?
Robert Mueller: 04:38 I’m not going to talk about that issue.
Mike Johnson: 04:43 That’s one of the many things you wouldn’t talk about today, but I think we can all draw our own conclusions. I do thank you for your service to the country. And I’m glad this charade will come to an end soon and we can get back to the important business of this committee with its broad jurisdiction of so many important issues for the country without a yield back.
Speaker 3: 04:58 Gentleman yields back. I want to announce that our intent was to conclude this hearing at around 11:45. All of the Republican members have now asked their questions, but we have a few remaining Democratic members. They will be limiting their questions, so with director Mueller’s indulgence, we expect to finish within 15 minutes.
Rep Collins Questioning
Robert Mueller: 00:00 Thank you sir.
Mr. Collins: 00:01 In your press conference you stated, “Any testimony from your office would not go beyond our report. We chose these words carefully, the word speaks for itself. I will not provide information beyond that which is already public, in any appearance before Congress.” Do you stand by that statement?
Robert Mueller: 00:13 Yes.
Mr. Collins: 00:14 Since closing the special counsel’s office in May of 2019 have you conducted any additional interviews or obtained any new information in your role as special counsel?
Robert Mueller: 00:23 In the wake of the report?
Mr. Collins: 00:24 Since the closing of the office in May of 2019.
Robert Mueller: 00:28 And the question was-
Mr. Collins: 00:29 Have you conducted any new interviews, any new witnesses, anything?
Robert Mueller: 00:32 No.
Mr. Collins: 00:33 And you can confirm you’re no longer special counsel, correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:35 I am no longer special counsel.
Mr. Collins: 00:38 At any time with the investigation was your investigation curtailed or stopped or hindered?
Robert Mueller: 00:44 No.
Mr. Collins: 00:45 Were you or your team provided any questions by members of Congress or the majority ahead of your hearing today?
Robert Mueller: 00:51 No.
Mr. Collins: 00:52 Your report states that your investigative team included 19 lawyers and approximately 40 FBI Agents and analysts and accountants. Are those numbers accurate?
Robert Mueller: 00:59 Could you repeat that please?
Mr. Collins: 01:00 40 FBI Agents, 19 lawyers, intelligence analysts and forensic accountants, are those numbers accurate?
Robert Mueller: 01:06 Generally yes.
Mr. Collins: 01:06 This was included in your report.
Robert Mueller: 01:08 Generally yes.
Mr. Collins: 01:09 Is it also true that you issued over 2800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records and 50 pen registers.
Robert Mueller: 01:18 That went a little fast for me.
Mr. Collins: 01:20 Okay. In your report, I’ll make this very simple, you did a lot of work, correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:25 Yes, that I agree to.
Mr. Collins: 01:26 A lot of subpoenas, a lot of pen registers.
Robert Mueller: 01:28 A lot of subpoenas.
Mr. Collins: 01:29 Okay. We’ll walk this really slow if we need to.
Robert Mueller: 01:30 A lot of search warrants.
Mr. Collins: 01:32 All right, a lot of search warrants, a lot of [inaudible 00:01:34]. So you’re very thorough?
Robert Mueller: 01:36 Any what?
Mr. Collins: 01:36 In your opinion very thorough, you listed this out in your report, correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:39 Yes, yes, yes.
Mr. Collins: 01:40 Thank you. Is it true the evidence gathered during your investigation… Given the questions that you’ve just answered, is it true the evidence gathered during your investigation did not establish that the president was involved in the underlying crime related to Russian election interference as stated in volume one, page seven?
Robert Mueller: 01:57 We found insufficient evidence of the president’s culpability-
Mr. Collins: 02:06 So that would be a yes?
Robert Mueller: 02:07 Without… Pardon?
Mr. Collins: 02:09 That’d be a yes?
Robert Mueller: 02:10 Yes.
Mr. Collins: 02:10 Thank you. Isn’t it true the evidence do not establish that the president or those close to him were involved in the charged Russian computer hacking or active measure conspiracies or that the president otherwise had unlawful relationships with any Russian official? Volume two, page 76. Correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:24 I’ll leave the answer to our report.
Mr. Collins: 02:27 So that was a yes. Is that any true your investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with Russian Government in election interference activity? Volume one page two, volume one page 173.
Robert Mueller: 02:39 Thank you, yes.
Mr. Collins: 02:40 Yes, thank you. Although your report states, “Collusion is not a specific offense,” and you’ve said that this morning, “Or a term of art in federal criminal law conspiracy is.” In the colloquial context are collusion and conspiracy essentially synonymous terms?
Robert Mueller: 02:57 You’re going to have to repeat that for me.
Mr. Collins: 03:00 Collusion is not a specific offense or a term of art in the federal criminal law, conspiracy is.
Robert Mueller: 03:09 Yes.
Mr. Collins: 03:09 In the colloquial context, known public context, collusion and conspiracy are essentially synonymous terms, correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:18 No.
Mr. Collins: 03:20 If no, on page 180 of volume one of your report, you wrote, “As defined in legal dictionaries, collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in the general conspiracy statute 18 U.S.C. 371.”
Robert Mueller: 03:32 I did.
Mr. Collins: 03:32 You said at your May 29th press conference and here today, you choose your words carefully. Are you sitting here today testifying something different than what your report states?
Robert Mueller: 03:41 Well what I’m asking is, if you can give me the citation, I can look at the citation and evaluate whether it is accurate.
Mr. Collins: 03:49 Okay. Let me just clarify. You stated that you would stay within the report. I just stated your report back to you and you said that collusion and conspiracy were not synonymous terms. That was, your answer was no.
Robert Mueller: 04:01 That’s correct.
Mr. Collins: 04:01 In that, page 180 of volume one of your report, it says, “As defined in legal dictionaries collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in general conspiracy statute 18 U.S.C. 371. ”
Robert Mueller: 04:15 That’s right.
Mr. Collins: 04:15 Now you said you chose your words carefully. Are you contradicting your report right now?
Robert Mueller: 04:20 Not when I read it.
Mr. Collins: 04:22 So you would change your answer to yes then?
Robert Mueller: 04:26 No, no. If you look at the language-
Mr. Collins: 04:29 I’m reading your report, sir. It’s a yes or no answer.
Robert Mueller: 04:31 [crosstalk 00:00:40] Page 180?
Mr. Collins: 04:33 Page 180, volume one.
Robert Mueller: 04:34 Okay.
Mr. Collins: 04:35 This was from your report.
Robert Mueller: 04:36 Correct, and I leave it with the report.
Mr. Collins: 04:41 So the report says, “Yes they are synonymous.”
Robert Mueller: 04:43 Yes.
Mr. Collins: 04:43 Hopefully for finally out of your own report we can put to bed the collusion and conspiracy. One last question as we’re going through. Did you ever look into other countries investigated in the Russian interference into our election? Were other countries investigated or found knowledge that they had interference in our election.
Robert Mueller: 05:00 I’m not going to discuss other matters.
Mr. Collins: 05:03 All right. Then I yield back.
Rep. Louie Gohmert Questioning
Rep Gohmert: 00:00 Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr. Mueller. Well first let me ask unanimous consent, Mr Chairman, to submit this article, Robert Mueller Unmasked, for the record.
Mr Chairman: 00:12 Without objection.
Rep Gohmert: 00:14 Now, Mr Mueller, who wrote the nine minute comments you read at your May 29th press conference?
Robert Mueller: 00:22 I’m not going to get into that.
Rep Gohmert: 00:24 Okay, so that’s what I thought. You didn’t write it. A 2013 puff piece in the Washingtonian about Comey said basically when Comey called, you’d drop everything you were doing, gave examples, you’re having dinner with your wife and daughter. Comey calls. You drop everything and go. The article quoted Comey as saying, “If a train were coming down the track,” and I quote, “at least Bob Mueller will be standing on the tracks with me.” You and James Comey had been good friends or were good friends for many years, correct?
Robert Mueller: 00:57 No, we were business associates. We both started off in the Justice Department about-
Rep Gohmert: 01:01 You were good friends. You can work together and not be friends, but you and Comey were friends.
Robert Mueller: 01:06 We were friends.
Rep Gohmert: 01:07 That’s my question. Thank you for getting to the answer. Now before you were appointed as Special Counsel, had you talked to James Comey in the preceding six months?
Robert Mueller: 01:18 No.
Rep Gohmert: 01:19 When you were appointed as Special Counsel, was President Trump’s firing of Comey something you anticipated investigating, potentially Obstruction of Justice?
Robert Mueller: 01:31 I can’t get into that, internal deliberations in the Justice Department.
Rep Gohmert: 01:36 Actually, it goes to your credibility and maybe you’ve been away from the courtroom for a while. Credibility is always relevant. It’s always material and that goes for you, too. You’re a witness before us. Let me ask you, when you talked to President Trump the day before he appointed or you were appointed as Special Counsel, you were talking to him about the FBI director position again. [crosstalk 00:01:58] Did he mention the firing of James Comey?
Robert Mueller: 02:00 But not as a candidate. I was asked-
Rep Gohmert: 02:02 Did he mentioned the firing of James Comey in your discussion with him?
Robert Mueller: 02:07 I cannot remember.
Rep Gohmert: 02:09 Pardon?
Robert Mueller: 02:10 Cannot remember. I don’t believe so but I could be specific-
Rep Gohmert: 02:13 You don’t remember. But if he did, you could been a fact witness as to the President’s comments and state of mind on firing James Comey.
Robert Mueller: 02:24 I suppose that’s possible.
Rep Gohmert: 02:25 Yeah, so most prosecutors want to make sure there was no appearance of impropriety, but in your case, you hired a bunch of people that did not like the President. Now let me ask you, when did you first learn of Peter Strzoks animus toward Donald Trump?
Robert Mueller: 02:44 In summer of 2017.
Rep Gohmert: 02:47 You didn’t know before he was hired?
Robert Mueller: 02:50 I’m sorry. What’d you?
Rep Gohmert: 02:51 You didn’t know before he was hired for your team?
Robert Mueller: 02:55 Know what?
Rep Gohmert: 02:58 Peter Strzok hated Trump.
Robert Mueller: 03:01 Okay.
Rep Gohmert: 03:02 You didn’t know that before he was made part of your team? Is that what you’re saying?
Robert Mueller: 03:06 I did not know that.
Rep Gohmert: 03:08 All right. When did you first learn?
Robert Mueller: 03:10 When I did find out, I acted swiftly to have him reassigned elsewhere in the [inaudible 00:03:15] .
Rep Gohmert: 03:15 Well, there’s some discussion about how swift that was. But when did you learn of the ongoing affair he was having with Lisa Page?
Robert Mueller: 03:22 About the same time. I learned it from Strzok.
Rep Gohmert: 03:27 Did you ever order anybody to investigate the deletion of all of their checks off of their government phones?
Robert Mueller: 03:36 Once we found that Peter Strzok was an author of-
Rep Gohmert: 03:41 Did you ever-
Robert Mueller: 03:42 May I finish-
Rep Gohmert: 03:43 … order, well, you’re not answering my question. Did you order an investigation in the deletion and reformatting of their government phones?
Robert Mueller: 03:53 No, there was an IG investigation ongoing.
Rep Gohmert: 03:56 Well, listen, now regarding collusion or conspiracy, you didn’t find evidence of any agreement and I’m quoting you, “Among the Trump campaign officials and any Russian linked individuals to interfere with our US election.” Correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:10 Correct.
Rep Gohmert: 04:11 So you also note in the report that an element of any of those obstructions you referenced requires a corrupt state of mind. Correct?
Robert Mueller: 04:23 Corrupt intent. Correct.
Rep Gohmert: 04:24 Right. And if somebody knows, they did not conspire with anybody from Russia to affect the election and they see the big Justice Department with people that hate that person, coming after them. And then a Special Counsel appointed who hires dozen or more people that hate that person. And he knows he’s innocent. He’s not corruptly acting in order to see that justice is done. What he’s doing is not obstructing justice. He is pursuing justice. And the fact that you ran it up [crosstalk 00:05:06] two years-
Mr Chairman: 05:06 [inaudible 00:05:08].
Rep Gohmert: 05:07 means you perpetuated injustice-
Robert Mueller: 05:11 I take your question.
Mr Chairman: 05:12 The gentleman’s has expired. The witness may answer the question.
Robert Mueller: 05:15 I take your question.
Rep. Steube Questioning
Greg Steube: 00:00 Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Mueller? Over here. Mr. Mueller, did you indeed interview for the FBI director job one day before you were appointed as special counsel?
Robert Mueller: 00:10 My understanding I was not applying for the job. I was asked to give my input on what it would take to do the job, which triggered the interview you’re talking about.
Greg Steube: 00:22 You don’t recall, on May 16th, 2017, that you interviewed with the president regarding the FBI director job?
Robert Mueller: 00:28 I interviewed with the president, and it was about-
Greg Steube: 00:30 Regarding the FBI director job?
Robert Mueller: 00:31 It was about the job but not about me applying for the job.
Greg Steube: 00:35 Your statement here today is that you didn’t interview to apply for the FBI director job.
Robert Mueller: 00:41 That’s correct.
Greg Steube: 00:43 Did you tell the vice president that the FBI director position would be the one job that you would come back for?
Robert Mueller: 00:49 Don’t recall that one.
Greg Steube: 00:50 You don’t recall that?
Robert Mueller: 00:52 No.
Greg Steube: 00:52 Okay. Given your 22 months of investigation, tens of million dollars spent, and millions of documents reviewed, did you obtain any evidence at all that any American voter changed their vote as a result of Russians’ election interference?
Robert Mueller: 01:06 I’m not going to speak to that.
Greg Steube: 01:06 You can’t speak to that?
Robert Mueller: 01:07 Can’t speak to it.
Greg Steube: 01:07 After 22 months of investigation, there’s not any evidence in that document before us that any voter changed their vote because of their interference? I’m asking you based on all of the documents that you reviewed.
Robert Mueller: 01:16 That was outside our purview.
Greg Steube: 01:19 Russian meddling was outside your purview?
Robert Mueller: 01:22 [inaudible 00:01:21], but the impact of that meddling was undertaken by other agencies.
Greg Steube: 01:27 Okay. You stated in your opening statement that you would not get into the details of the Steele dossier. However, multiple times in volume two on page 23, 27, and 28, you mentioned the unverified allegations. How long did it take you to reach the conclusion that it was unverified?
Robert Mueller: 01:43 I’m not going to speak to that.
Greg Steube: 01:46 It’s actually in your report multiple times that it’s unverified, and you’re telling me that you’re not willing to tell us how you came to the conclusion that it was unverified.
Robert Mueller: 01:52 True.
Greg Steube: 01:55 When did you become aware that the unverified Steele dossier was included in the FISA application to spy on Carter Page?
Robert Mueller: 02:02 I’m sorry. What was he? What was the question?
Greg Steube: 02:05 When did you become aware that the unverified Steele dossier was included in the FISA application to spy on Carter Page?
Robert Mueller: 02:14 I’m not going to speak to that.
Greg Steube: 02:16 Your team interviewed Christopher Steele. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 02:19 Not going to get into that. As I said at the [crosstalk inaudible 00:02:21]-
Greg Steube: 02:21 You can’t tell this committee as to whether or not you interviewed Christopher Steele in a 22-month investigation with 18 lawyers?
Robert Mueller: 02:28 As I said at the outset, that is one of the investigations that is being handled by others in the Department of Justice.
Greg Steube: 02:36 Yeah, but you’re here testifying about this investigation today, and I am asking you directly did any members of your team or did you interview Christopher Steele in the course of your investigation?
Robert Mueller: 02:45 I am not going to answer that question, sir.
Greg Steube: 02:47 You had two years to investigate. Not once did you consider it worthy to investigate how an unverified document that was paid for by a political opponent was used to obtain a warrant to spy on the opposition political campaign. Did you do any investigation into that whatsoever?
Robert Mueller: 03:02 I do not accept your characterization of what occurred.
Greg Steube: 03:05 What would be your characterization?
Robert Mueller: 03:05 I’m not going to speak any more to it.
Greg Steube: 03:07 You can’t speak any more to it, but you’re not going to agree with my characterization. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 03:14 Yes.
Greg Steube: 03:16 The FISA application makes reference to source one, who was Christopher Steele, the author of the Steele dossier. The FISA application says nothing source’s one’s reason for conducting the research into candidate one’s ties to Russia based on source’s one previous reporting history with FBI whereby source one provided reliable information to the FBI. The FBI believes source one’s reporting herein to be credible. Do you believe the FBI’s representation that source one’s reporting was credible to be accurate?
Robert Mueller: 03:42 I’m not going to answer that.
Greg Steube: 03:44 You’re not going to respond to any of the questions regarding Christopher Steele or your interviews with him?
Robert Mueller: 03:49 Well, as I said at the outset this morning, that was one of the investigations that I could not speak to.
Greg Steube: 03:56 Well, I don’t understand how, if you interviewed an individual in the purview of this investigation that you’re testifying to us today that you’ve closed that investigation, how that’s not within your purview to tell us about that investigation and who you interviewed.
Robert Mueller: 04:07 I have nothing to add.
Greg Steube: 04:11 Okay. I can guarantee that the American people want to know, and I’m very hopeful and glad that AG Barr is looking into this and the inspector general is looking into this because you’re unwilling to answer the questions of the American people as it relates to the very basis of this investigation into the president and the very basis of this individual who you did interview. You’re just refusing to answer those questions.
Greg Steube: 04:33 Can’t the president fire the FBI director at any time without reason under Article One of the Constitution?
Robert Mueller: 04:38 Yes.
Greg Steube: 04:39 Article Two.
Robert Mueller: 04:40 Yes.
Greg Steube: 04:40 That’s correct. Can’t he also fire you as special counsel at anytime without any reason?
Robert Mueller: 04:44 I believe that to be the case.
Greg Steube: 04:46 Under Article Two.
Robert Mueller: 04:46 Well, hold on just a second. You