On Wednesday, after a tense morning meeting with House Judiciary Committee, Robert Mueller continued to answer questions from Congress in a separate hearing with members of the House Intelligence Committee.
Brought into to testify about his findings on Russian interference and Donald Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice, Mueller steered clear from questions concerning Trump’s impeachment and other politically charged matters.
The first round of questioning during the second hearing came from Democratic chair Rep. Adam Schiff and ranking Republican member Devin Nunes, who both took turns framing the Mueller report. Schiff said the report told “a story about lies. Lots of lies” from the president, while Nunes said evidence of collusion was “like the Loch Ness Monster.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas questioned Mueller about the Trump Tower meeting, a meeting in 2016 with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya where the Trump campaign was offered dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“The [Republican] party line in this case, was that the deal ended in January 2016, in other words, they were saying the deal ended in January 2016 before the Republican primaries. In truth though, the deal extended to June 2016 when Donald Trump was already the presumptive Republican nominee,” Castro said, asking Mueller to confirm.
“That’s correct,” Mueller replied.
While Mueller kept his answers brief throughout the hearing, one moment that created buzz was when the special prosecutor was asked about Trump’s comments over Wikileaks.
Would any of these quotes disturb you, Mr. Director?” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) asked Mueller. “How do you react to them?”
“Problematic is an understatement in terms of what it displays, giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity,” Mueller responded.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to say whether Mueller’s answers revealed anything that wasn’t already included in the 448-page report released in April. Even so, having Mueller himself highlight the most damaging aspects of the report were enough to get Trump tweeting and may provide Democrats with the necessary firepower in a heated election cycle.