Speaking in short sentences and frequently turning to cite his report, former special counsel Robert Mueller spent the morning testifying to lawmakers for the first time about his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and attempts by the president to impede his probe.
The former FBI director hewed closely to the findings of his report in response to sometimes-heated questioning from 41 members of the House Judiciary Committee during the first of two hearings slated for Wednesday. His hearing before the House Intelligence Committee began shortly before 1 p.m.
In the first hearing, Mueller gave one-word answers — “yes,” “no,” “true,” “correct” — to questions 112 times over the course of nearly four hours. He flatly refused to answer address a range of topics or even read directly from his report, asking members to recite relevant passages themselves. He declined to discuss whether his report was a tacit recommendation of impeachment, and would not elaborate on the process behind key decisions that were made over the course of his investigation.
At the beginning of the hearing, Mueller reiterated his investigation did not exonerate President Trump on obstruction of justice, emphasizing Department of Justice policies against charging a sitting president.
Democrats largely focused on the portion of Mueller’s report dealing with possible obstruction by the president, while Republicans expressed outrage over Mueller’s failure to clear the president and questioned the origins of the investigation itself.
Some of the only instances of Mueller diverging from the report came when he defended the integrity of his investigators, pushing back on Republicans who suggested his team was politically motivated.
Mueller’s testimony began at 8:30 a.m. and ran longer than its allotted time, concluding shortly after noon. He is testifying before the House Intelligence Committee for another two hours in the afternoon.