Democrats believed that bringing Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees on July 24, 2019 was a way to allow a non-reading American public to finally hear the full story told in Mueller’s 448-page report: people could hear the testimony on TV or radio. Republicans saw the testimony as a stunt to resuscitate a non-issue, and an opportunity to prove some of their Deep State theories about the origins of the Trump-Russia story.
As a reluctant, and at times confused, Mueller testified, both sides got what they wanted, but their supporters likely heard – or willfully chose to overlook – uncomfortably contrary information in the process.
Democrats illuminated some major findings from Mueller’s Report:
- The report did not exonerate the President on the charge of obstruction of justice
- Some people interviewed by Mueller’s team lied, pled the 5th, destroyed evidence, and had communicated electronically in ways that could not be traced
- These factors may have affected the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to prove coordination between the Trump Campaign and the Kremlin
- Trump’s Campaign Manager, Paul Manafort, gave a Russian operative named Konstantin Kilimnik internal Trump Campaign strategy information and internal campaign polling data, which may have helped with the Russians’ social media activities to interfere with the 2016 Presidential election
- The Trump Campaign did not try to discourage Russia’s illegal interference efforts – including hacking Clinton and Democratic emails – and in fact embraced those efforts and planned their media strategy and campaign messaging around them
- Russians made approximately 120 known contacts with the Trump Campaign
- After Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference began, the President publicly and privately worked to discourage key people from cooperating with the investigation
- The President also encouraged key people to “stay strong” and avoid cooperating with the investigation: the President and his legal staff even suggested pardons for some
- The President made multiple efforts to stop Mueller’s investigation, including asking a number of associates to fire Mueller
- White House Lawyer Don McGahn was so upset at being asked to do this that he prepared to resign
- The President asked McGahn to deny being asked to fire Mueller, and asked McGahn to create a written document for the White House’s records falsely stating that the request had never taken place
- The President also made many efforts to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “un-recuse” himself from the Mueller investigation, because he wanted Sessions to protect him from the investigation
- The Office of Legal Counsel’s guidance that a sitting President cannot be indicted factored significantly into Mueller’s decision not to charge the President with obstruction of justice
- A President who has committed illegal acts can be indicted after leaving office
- Other investigations that were spun off from the Mueller investigation are still in progress, which may reveal further acts of criminality
But Republican questioning also brought some important facts to light which have not been given adequate attention:
- Natalia Veselnitskaya – the Russian lawyer in the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting – had hired Fusion GPS (producer of the Steele Dossier) in 2014 on behalf of her client, a Russian firm called Prevezon Holdings
- From June 8-10, 2016, Veselnitskaya spent more time with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson than she did with Trump Campaign officials
- The “dirt on Hillary Clinton” that Veselnitskaya was offering was information that Simpson had uncovered while working for Veselnitskaya and Prevezon Holdings
- The relationship between Veselnitskaya and Simpson (whose hiring of former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele ultimately provided some of the first indications of Russian election interference) was never examined by Mueller
- It is possible that the Steele Dossier contained misinformation intentionally provided to Christopher Steele by his Russian sources
- Konstantin Kilimnik, the Russian intelligence operative to whom Paul Manafort gave Trump Campaign polling data and strategy information, may also be an asset of the U.S. State Department
- Joseph Mifsud, the alleged source for George Papadopoulos’ belief that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary, was interviewed by the FBI and lied to them three times, but remarkably was never charged
- Mifsud, a professor, may be a Russian intelligence agent or a western intelligence agent
- Several of the prosecutors hired by Mueller to investigate Trump had collectively given over $60,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign
Time will tell whether Mueller’s testimony moves the needle toward at least beginning an impeachment inquiry, but Mueller’s testimony makes clear that Donald Trump committed federal crimes that would be immediately prosecutable if he were not the President. It also makes clear that there is still more of the story that has not been uncovered. In the end, what Mueller’s testimony may most effectively prove is Americans’ ability to tune out information that they don’t want to hear.
– rob rünt
Full Transcript of Mueller’s House Judiciary Committee Testimony
Full Transcript of Mueller’s House Intelligence Committee Testimony
2 thoughts on “Mueller’s Testimony: A Rorschach Test for Americans”
That testimony just made me feel sad for Mueller and how frail he seemed. I wonder if he became more like this due to the last two years and hope he wasn’t like this while he was doing his investigations. ‘Cause one can see him being exhausted, overwhelmed, missing stuff, etc., even with all his teams. It was a letdown, like when the report was first released. I definitely think very few will have changed their minds after this. Nothing is going to happen until Donald’s out of office and the law can finally get their hands on him–and for so many other things besides the Russia situation.
Hopefully the stuff he missed was farmed out to the FBI and other law enforcement orgs, but I’m becoming increasingly concerned that Barr is quietly shutting those down behind the scenes.