by WorldTribune Staff, July 2, 2019
Congress members on both sides of the aisle are not accepting special counsel Robert Mueller’s contention that his 448-page report is the final word as far as any future testimony would go.
“Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report,” Mueller said on May 29. “It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”
Republicans and Democrats indicated they will press Mueller for more information when he testifies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on July 17.
Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and ranking member of the intelligence committee, said he wants Mueller to detail how the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign got started.
“Republicans will focus on the many shortcomings, biases and false insinuations in the Mueller report and try to find out why Mueller refused to investigate the numerous abuses in how the Russia investigation was initiated and conducted,” Jack Langer, spokesman for Nunes, told The Washington Times.
The intel committee’s chair, Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat, outright rejected Mueller’s insistence that the report was his testimony.
“There’s no limitation on confining his testimony to the four corners of the report,” Schiff told CNN. “That may be his desire, but Congress has questions that go beyond the report.”
President Donald Trump said that Mueller “must” stick to the report’s findings when he testifies before the House committees.
Trump tweeted on July 2: “Robert Mueller is being asked to testify yet again. He said he could only stick to the Report, & that is what he would and must do. After so much testimony & total transparency, this Witch Hunt must now end. No more Do Overs. No Collusion, No Obstruction. The Great Hoax is dead!”
Trump’s legal team said last week the White House is not planning to take any steps to block or limit Mueller’s testimony.
Schiff has said he plans to summon not just Mueller, but also his staff of prosecutors for closed-door questions.
“How Mueller assembled that team is sure to be a topic for Republicans,” Washington Times security correspondent Rowan Scarborough noted. “Trump referred to them as ‘18 angry Democrats.’ Most prosecutors had Democratic ties, some as donors.”
Andrew Weissmann, who handled the Paul Manafort investigation, donated to Democrats and attended what was supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s presidential victory party in New York. Jeannie Rhee represented Clinton in two cases.
“We have legitimate questions about how all these people ended up on the Mueller team that had a history of donating financially to Democrats. There did not seem to be sufficient balance,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican and a Judiciary Committee member.
Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican and another Judiciary Committee member, tweeted, “I’ve got a lot of questions about how Bob Mueller spent $35 million in taxpayer money to find there was no collusion.”
Republicans also plan to seek information on Mueller’s firing of two senior FBI employees — Assistant Director Peter Strzok and his lover, FBI counsel Lisa Page.
Strzok was sacked from Mueller’s team after the Justice Department inspector general discovered anti-Trump texts between Strzok and Page while reviewing how the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation. The FBI later fired him outright.
Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said he believes Trump obstructed justice.
Nadler, in a joint statement with Schiff, said: “Americans have demanded to hear directly from the special counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack.”
Mueller appears to have ruled out answering such questions, which Republicans say would be tantamount to writing a new report.