Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified for over three and half hours in front of the House Judiciary Committee this morning where we learned nothing new.

Now Mueller will testify over Volume I of his report in front of the House Intelligence Committee.

No Trump Subpoena

Mueller did not subpoena Trump because he knew it would cause the probe to drag:

“The expectation was if we did subpoena for the president, he would fight it and we would be in the midst of the investigation for a substantial period of time,” said Mr. Mueller in response to questions from Democrat Sean Maloney.

“We were almost towards the end of our investigation and we had little success in pushing to get the interview of the president, we decided that we did not want to exercise the subpoena powers because of the necessity of expediting the end of the investigation,” Mr. Mueller explain.

He said there was no prohibition imposed on him by the Department of Justice about whether he could submit a subpoena.

Mr. Trump did supply written answers to questions, which Mr. Mueller said were effectively under oath but were not as helpful as an interview would have been.

Trump or Hillary?

Rep. Himes asked Mueller who Russia wanted to win and Mueller said Trump.

However, he said that Hillary did receive some of the exact same treatment.

Mueller said that the effect on the election is being investigated by other entities.

Mueller also said he would not speculate if Russia’s actions affected our election.

Himes also asked Mueller what a 2020 candidate should do if offered dirt from a foreign person or government. We all know that gathering dirt on your opponent is normal. Mueller said that it depends on the circumstance if it’s a crime.

Mueller Corrected Previous Testimony

Before he began this hearing, Mueller wanted to correct testimony to Rep. Ted Lieu in the morning hearing:

His original answer was seen as Mueller saying the only reason the President was not indicted was because, as president, he cannot be indicated.

However, Mueller clarified the correct view is that they made no assessment as to whether there was a crime or not because of the OLC guidance.

“Now before we go to questions, I want to add on correction to my testimony this morning. I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu who said, and I quote, you didn’t charge the President because of the OLC opinion. That is not the correct way to say it,” Mueller said.
Mueller then corrected Lieu’s wording: “As we say in the report, and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime. With that, Mr. Chairman, I’m ready to answer questions.”

What you need to know about the OLC opinion: Internal Justice Department policies say that a sitting president cannot be indicted. The policy comes from the OLC — the Office of Legal Counsel — and it dates back to the Nixon administration. It is binding on all Justice Department employees, including Mueller and his team of prosecutors.

In his report, Mueller directly explained how this had a major impact on his internal deliberations.

In effect, Mueller framed his entire obstruction investigation around the notion that he couldn’t bring any charges against Trump, even if he found ironclad evidence against him, because of the OLC opinion.

Deputy Special Counsel Joins Mueller

Mueller’s deputy Aaron Zebley has joined Mueller during this hearing. He is a longtime aide to Mueller:

Who is Mr. Zebley? He’s a close aide of Mr. Mueller who has served alongside him in several jobs over the past decade.

Mr. Zebley came up through the FBI ranks, jumped over to the Justice Department to serve as a prosecutor and official in the national security division. Mr. Zebley returned to the FBI to serve as Mr. Mueller’s chief of staff while he was FBI director.

He left government service along with Mr. Mueller, following his former boss to the law firm Wilmer Hale. When Mr. Mueller was appointed special counsel in 2017,Mr. Zebley joined the special counsel office.

With the closing of the special counsel’s office in May, Mr. Zebley is now out of government.

Adam Schiff Opening Statement

Schiff used his opening statement to accuse Trump’s campaign of “disloyalty to the country:”

“Your investigation determined that the Trump campaign including Trump himself knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian meddling into their strategy, and used it,” Mr. Schiff said.

“That disloyalty may not have been criminal. Constrained by uncooperative witnesses, the destruction of documents and the use of encrypted communications, your team was not able to establish each of the elements of the crime of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt, so not a provable crime, in any event. But, I think, maybe, something worse,” Mr. Schiff said according to prepared remarks.

“A crime is the violation of a law written by Congress. But disloyalty to country violates the very obligation of citizenship, our devotion to a core principle on which our nation was founded, that we, the people, not some foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide, who shall govern, us,” Mr. Schiff said.

Details

The Intelligence Committee will focus on Volume I of the Mueller report. This portion concentrated on the Russian 2016 election interference so the committee will ask about collusion.

I imagine like the previous testimony Mueller will tell the representatives to refer to the report or that he cannot answer due to ongoing investigations.

 
 
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