Just the Facts

Five Facts on Major Takeaways from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Testimony

By No Labels
July 25, 2019 | Blog

In his testimony Wednesday before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees former special counsel Robert Mueller III revealed little new information and refrained from explosive or descriptive answers to pointed questions. Here are five major takeaways from his testimony. 

Mueller set strict limitations on what he would address in his opening statement, which limited the range of questions both Democrats and Republicans could ask. 

In his opening statement, Mueller said he would be unable to address the origins of the investigation into Russian interference, the Steele dossier, Attorney General William Barr, or the actions of Congress. President Trump has insisted that an investigation based on the Steele dossier was illegal, and Republicans could not question Mueller on the matter. Democrats have criticized the differences in statements by Barr and Mueller and could not have their questions answered either[1].  

Mueller deflected or declined to answer questions 198 times. 

Mueller had stated that the report was his testimony and that he would not comment outside of what was stated or covered in the report. He did not want to speculate, would not comment on internal deliberations, referred the committee members to an answer in the report, or claimed a question was outside of his purview[2]

Mueller stated that he did not consider indicting the president for obstruction because of a ruling from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the Justice Department. 

He did not reach a determination whether or not to indict President Trump. The OLC ruling Mueller referenced was issued in 2000 and states “the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions[3].” As a result, Mueller stated that they “did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime[4]” and that his investigation did not exonerate the president. 

Mueller stated that Russian interference in American elections is a significant risk to our democracy. 

In his opening statement he said, “Over the course of my career, I’ve seen a number of challenges to our democracy, the Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious[5].” He said Russian election interference is a significant threat for the 2020 election and is already underway[6]

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats got the answers they wanted.        

Mueller did not give any new information that was not included in the report to fuel an impeachment inquiry by Democrats. He also spoke in short or one-word answers, failing to provide a narrative of his report that Democrats hoped would captivate the public. Mueller fervently denied any accusations that his report was biased or unfair. He did not admit to any mistakes that would have allowed Republicans to seriously question the report’s credibility[7]

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