Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller participated in twin congressional hearings on Wednesday before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, where he explained to lawmakers the findings of his 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Or, he was supposed to.
Mueller did testify, but offered little new information about his investigation and showed, at times, that he was not fully aware of the information actually in the final report frustrating members on both sides of the aisle.
On several occasions, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers asked Mueller questions concerning the report’s contents but he said he was unable to legally provide an answer for them—until those members told Mueller that the answer was already in the report.
Mueller also was tripped up by questions concerning the parameters of his investigation, including its scope, origin, and processes.
The key witness refused to answer questions concerning how the investigation was initiated, who started it, what witnesses were interviewed during the investigation, when Mueller learned that the controversial dossier—cited multiple times in the final report—was unverified, how the FISA warrants were given, and several other factors.
Mueller also refrained from answering questions as to why he charged members associated with the Trump campaign and not members of Fusion GPS, the Democratic National Committee or Glenn Simpson, despite being provided evidence of their wrongdoing.
ABC News reports:
For Democrats, Mueller was to be the face of the evidence amassed during a 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the alleged efforts by President Trump to impede that probe.
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To Republicans, he was to be a foil who could help them mount an assault on the investigation’s underpinnings and findings.
It appeared neither side left the morning’s House Judiciary Committee hearing fully satisfied with the outcome. Mueller offered very little to support either narrative, declining requests to read out loud from the 448-page report, impeding the flow of the session by asking dozens of times for panelists to repeat questions, or telling them simply, “I can’t get into that.”
Mueller’s testimony also included dozens of clumsy instances where he could not provide an answer. “At least 38 times Mueller said he would prefer members simply “refer to the report,” according to an ABC News count. And at least 21 times, Mueller asked members to repeat their question,” ABC News reports.