Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Mueller dismisses Trump’s claims of Russia probe exoneration

Published:Wednesday | July 24, 2019 | 12:32 PM
Former special counsel, Robert Mueller, is sworn in before he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert Mueller on Wednesday bluntly dismissed President Donald Trump’s claims of total exoneration in the federal probe of Russia’s 2016 election interference, telling Congress he explicitly did not clear the president of obstructing his investigation.

The former special counsel also rejected Trump’s assertions that the probe was a “witch hunt” and hoax.

In hours of sometimes halting and stilted testimony, unfolding at a moment of deep division in the country, Mueller also condemned Trump’s praise of WikiLeaks, which released Democratic emails stolen by Russia. He declared Russian election interference one of the greatest challenges to democracy that he had encountered in his career.

Russia, he said, was “doing it as we sit here.”

Mueller’s reluctance at the televised Capitol Hill hearings to stray beyond his lengthy written report, and his reliance on terse, one-word answers, produced few if any new revelations to move Americans who may be hardened in their opinions about the success of Donald Trump’s presidency and whether impeachment proceedings are necessary.

But that didn’t stop Republicans and Democrats from their own divergent paths to question Mueller.

Trump’s GOP allies tried to cast the former special counsel and his prosecutors as politically motivated.

They referred repeatedly to what they consider the improper opening of the investigation.

Democrats, meanwhile, sought to emphasise the most incendiary findings of Mueller’s 448-page report and weaken Trump’s reelection prospects in ways that Mueller’s book-length report did not. 

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