mueller hearing
July 24, 2019

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) seemed to be a good choice to end the Mueller testimony.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke to the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees on Wednesday about his probe into Russian election interference and President Trump's investigation, but largely avoided answering questions from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. BUt with his opening statement, questioning, and closing words, Schiff provided a rare exception.

In a tweet, Washington Post White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker kept his praise simple, outlining what Schiff's "precise questioning" of Mueller revealed.

Dan Rather went a bit further, tweeting during a mid-point break in the hearing that Democrats should "be talking about ceding all [their] time to Schiff in the next round of questioning." And Tom Nichols, a self-proclaimed "ex-GOP" Harvard professor, suggested that under different circumstances, Trump might already be out the door.

After all this commentary, Schiff went on to elicit several more concise answers from Mueller during his closing statement. Watch Schiff's first round of questioning below. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 24, 2019

Democrats' biggest win from Wednesday morning was gone by Wednesday afternoon.

During his testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller answered a question from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) that appeared to be exactly what Democrats were looking for. Yet in a later hearing for the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller brought up his earlier comments — and completely took them back.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lieu referenced how during his probe of Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, Mueller was beholden to an Office of Legal Counsel policy that states a sitting president cannot be charged with a federal crime. "You did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?" Lieu asked. Mueller responded with a "yes."

Yet after a lunch break, Mueller said that he'd like to make a "correction to my testimony this morning." He quoted Lieu's question, and then said Lieu's phrasing was "not the correct way to say it." Watch his whole reversal below. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 24, 2019

Republicans and Democrats want the same thing from the Mueller hearing: Money.

On Wednesday, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified to the House Judiciary Committee about his report on Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. Democrats largely saw Mueller's report as damning, while Republicans often considered it exonerating. And while Mueller has said that his report did not affirm Trump's innocence, Trump still reaffirmed his "no collusion" talking point in a text blast and email to supporters sent during the hearing — and asked them for a donation.

But it wasn't just Trump, or even just Republicans, who tried to capitalize on the Mueller hearing. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also sent out a "Mueller report survey" that inevitably asked readers for a donation after already taking their time.

All of these email blasts came before Mueller had even finished his judiciary testimony on Wednesday — and he still had another hearing left to go. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 24, 2019

Democrats may have finally turned the Mueller hearing in their favor.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, with Democrats publicly hoping his hearing would "give life" to his report on Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. Yet analysts largely considered Mueller's stuttering, audio-compromised hearing a dud — at least until Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) did Democrats' work for them.

While Mueller investigated Trump for obstruction of justice, he was beholden to an Office of Legal Counsel policy that states a sitting president cannot be charged with a federal crime. Buck acknowledged that policy on Wednesday, and then went on to ask Mueller a critical question: "Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?" "Yes," Mueller responded. "You could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?" Buck then asked, and Mueller responded "yes" again.

As national security lawyer and commentator Bradley Moss put it in a tweet, Buck's questioning "gave the Democrats the clip they want." Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) then took that line of questioning a step further, asking Mueller if the reason "that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?" "That is correct," Mueller answered again. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 24, 2019

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) might have some career ambitions on his mind.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified for the House on Wednesday, largely deferring questions from both parties back to his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. That deference lead Ratcliffe to go on a rant against Mueller, intensely asking him to name a time when an "investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined."

Ratcliffe's questioning pertained to the second half of Mueller's report, which outlined several instances where President Trump may have tried to obstruct Mueller's probe but did not recommend that Trump be charged with obstruction of justice. Mueller has repeatedly said that his report did not exonerate Trump of obstruction, prompting Ratcliffe to speak for much of his allotted time on why he thought Mueller was wrong.

While other members of the House Judiciary Committee are known for their grandstanding questioning during hearings, Ratcliffe isn't one of them. But as Politico's Natasha Bertrand pointed out during the hearing, Ratcliffe "is among the names being floated for Director of National intelligence. A recent Axios report indicated Trump is "eager" to fire current director Dan Coats, suggesting Ratcliffe is trying to get on Trump's good side. Kathryn Krawczyk

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