Advertisement
  1. Nation & World

House Republicans vow tough questions for Robert Mueller at hearing

FILE - In this May 29, 2019, file photo, Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, about the Russia investigation. 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. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
FILE - In this May 29, 2019, file photo, Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, about the Russia investigation. 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. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Published Jul. 22, 2019

WASHINGTON — 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 of justice.

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 the probe.

"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."

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. In this Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, Joseph Maldonado answers a question during an interview at the zoo he runs in Wynnewood, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File) [SUE OGROCKI  |  AP]
    A federal judge sentenced Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage to 22 years in prison for trying to arrange the killing of Carole Baskin.
  2. In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday. (Senate Television via AP) [AP]
    After late-night deliberations over the rules almost ensured no new witnesses will be heard, the trial picked up speed
  3. In this Dec. 14, 2017, file photo, Jeff Bezos attends the premiere of "The Post" at The Newseum in Washington. United Nations experts on Wednesday, have called for "immediate investigation" by the United States into information they received that suggests that Jeff Bezos' phone was hacked after receiving a file sent from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's WhatsApp account. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP, File) [BRENT N. CLARKE  |  Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP]
    Experts suggest Bezos’ phone was hacked after receiving an MP4 video file sent from the Saudi prince’s WhatsApp account.
  4. The Toyota recall covers certain 2011-2019 Corollas, the 2011 to 2013 Matrix, the 2012 through 2018 Avalon and the 2013 to 2018 Avalon Hybrid in the U.S. Pictured is a 2013 Avalon Limited.
    The problem could affect as many as 12.3 million vehicles in the U.S. made by six companies.
  5. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday. Trump's two-day stay in Davos is a test of his ability to balance anger over being impeached with a desire to project leadership on the world stage. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    “It’s such a hoax," Trump said of the impeachment case against him. "I think it’s so bad for our country.”
  6. Deputies and the sheriff of Grayson County, Va., shared photos on their official Facebook from Monday's second-amendment rally in Richmond, Va. [Grayson County Sheriff's Office]
    In a viral video on Twitter, Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughan calls proposed legislation ‘unconstitutional.’
  7. A makeshift memorial is set up near a home where a Phoenix woman was arrested on suspicion of killing her three children after they were found dead inside the family home Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) [ROSS D. FRANKLIN  |  AP]
    Rachel Henry, 22, has been booked into jail on three counts of first-degree murder, police said.
  8. Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg listens as U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday. The 50th annual meeting of the forum will take place in Davos from Jan. 21 until Jan. 24. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) [MARKUS SCHREIBER  |  AP]
    “The facts are clear," the 17-year-old Swedish activist said after the president’s speech, “but they are still too uncomfortable for you to address.”
  9. Carldon Travis King Jr., 35, was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
    Carldon Travis King Jr. shot the man after an altercation, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
  10. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., talks to reporters about the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) [JULIO CORTEZ  |  AP]
    President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial quickly burst into a partisan fight Tuesday.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement