House GOP Vow Tough Mueller Questions 07/22 06:21
House Republicans are pledging tough questioning of special counsel Robert
Mueller when he testifies before Congress this week as Democrats plan to air
evidence of wrongdoing by President Donald Trump in a potentially last-ditch
bid to impeach him.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans are pledging tough questioning of
special counsel Robert Mueller when he testifies before Congress this week as
Democrats plan to air evidence of wrongdoing by President Donald Trump in a
potentially last-ditch bid to impeach him.
Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on House Judiciary Committee, said the
American public is growing weary of the Russia investigation three months after
the release of the special counsel's 448-page report and that "any thought of
impeachment is waning." He said Republicans will be focused on making clear
that the report represents a "final episode" in the Russia probe, which he
described as flawed.
"Remember, the Mueller report is a one-sided report," Collins said. "It has
not been questioned from the other side. This is our chance to do that."
Days before back-to-back hearings Wednesday, both sides seemed to agree that
Mueller's testimony could be pivotal in shifting public opinion on the question
of "holding the president accountable."
"This is a president who has violated the law 6 ways from Sunday," said New
York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He argued that
Mueller's report lays out "very substantial evidence" that Trump is guilty of
"high crimes and misdemeanors," the constitutional standard for impeachment.
"We have to present --- or let Mueller present --- those facts to the
American people ... because the administration must be held accountable and no
president can be above the law," Nadler said.
The House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee will
question Mueller in separate hearings on the report. While the report did not
find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy between
the Trump campaign and Russia to swing the election, it said Trump could not be
cleared of trying to obstruct the investigation . But Mueller believed Trump
couldn't be indicted in part because of a Justice Department opinion against
prosecuting a sitting president.
Mueller has said he doesn't intend to speak beyond the findings of the
report in congressional hearings.
Still, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee plan to focus on a narrow set of
episodes laid out in the report to direct Americans' attention to what they see
as the most egregious examples of Trump's conduct, which point to obstruction
The examples include Trump's directions to then-White House counsel Donald
McGahn to have Mueller removed and, later, orders from Trump to McGahn to deny
that happened. Democrats also will focus questioning on a series of meetings
Trump had with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in which the
Republican president directed Lewandowski to persuade then-Attorney General
Jeff Sessions to limit Mueller's investigation.
Collins, meanwhile, said Republicans will focus in part on the origins of
the Russia investigation, which Trump has long derided as a political "witch
hunt" as well as evidence they see of potential bias in the FBI's handling of
"There's going to be a lot of questions for what he did say, what he didn't
say, and how this thing started," he said, referring to Mueller. "This is the
time that the Democrats have got to show on their end how much time they have
been wasting of our committee and how we have not been getting things done
because they simply don't like this president, who was elected by the people in
2016, and they're just trying to derail him for 2020."
Mueller's appearance comes more than two years since the start of the Russia
investigation, an extraordinary moment in Trump's presidency when, after Trump
had fired FBI Director James Comey, his Justice Department appointed Mueller to
take over the inquiry into election interference and the potential role that
Trump and his winning 2016 campaign may have played.
While Mueller's testimony was once envisioned as a crystalizing event, a
Watergate-style moment to uncover truths, public attention has drifted in the
months since the report was released.
"We want Bob Mueller to bring it to life, to talk about what's in that
report," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee. "It's a pretty damning set of facts that involve a presidential
campaign in a close race welcoming help from a hostile foreign power, not
reporting it but eagerly embracing it, building it into their campaign
strategy, lying about it to cover up, then obstructing an investigation into
foreign interference again to try to cover up."
Intelligence committee aides have said they believe the public has received
a slanted view of what Mueller found on the question of criminal conspiracy
because of Trump's repeated claims of "no collusion," and because the details
of Russia's interference in the election --- and the outreach to the Trump
campaign --- haven't gotten enough attention.
"Who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation
himself?" Schiff asked.
Nadler said he's not worried that Republicans might seek to attack the
credibility of the Russia investigation and says he hopes to take cues from the
public after the hearing about "where we go from here."
"We hope it won't end up being a dud," he said.
Nadler spoke on "Fox News Sunday," Schiff appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation"
and Collins was on Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures."