Washington: Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated congressional testimony on Wednesday broke little new ground but notably included a repudiation of some of President Donald Trump’s repeated claims about his findings.
Trump has claimed he was “totally exonerated” by Mueller’s report, although the former FBI Director denied that assertion within the first few minutes of his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
Democrats on the committee also highlighted several instances of possible obstruction of justice by Trump included in Mueller’s report even though the president has repeatedly stated the investigation found “no obstruction.”
Mueller stood by the findings of his report as well as his decision to follow the Justice Department guidelines indicating a sitting president is immune from indictment.
Some of the instances of possible obstruction of justice highlighted by the Democrats included Trump telling former White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller and subsequently pressuring him to lie about it.
Mueller assented when Democrats repeated claims from his report but seemed reluctant to quote from the report himself, seemingly wary of his remarks being used as a sound bite.
Several Democratic members of the committee argued that anyone other than the president that committed the acts of obstruction outlined in Mueller’s report would have been charged with a crime, repeatedly declaring that “No one is above the law.”
Some of the Democrats noted and Mueller agreed that an unsuccessful attempt to obstruct justice is still a crime.
Meanwhile, Republicans on the committee maintained that listing instances of possible obstruction without reaching a conclusion on charges shifted the burden to Trump to prove his innocence.
The GOP members repeatedly cited the sacred legal principle that a defendant is “innocent until proven guilty.”
Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert, R-Tex., went so far as to accuse Mueller of “perpetuating injustice” through his investigation.
However, Republicans were stymied in their efforts to cast aspersions on the origins of the investigation, as Mueller refused to discuss the issue, including the role of the infamous Steele Dossier.
Mueller did note that his investigation did not find sufficient evidence of Trump’s culpability in a conspiracy with Russia to influence the outcome of the election.
May Democrats are hoping Mueller’s testimony will help lay the groundwork for impeachment proceedings against Trump.