Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller’s about his selective prosecution methods as he sought details about the origins of the FBI counterintelligence probe into Russia meddling in the 2016 election.
Mueller appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on July 24 for the highly-anticipated hearing to answer lawmakers’ questions about his report that failed to find that President Donald Trump or his associates colluded with Russia.
During his questioning, Jordan criticized Democrats for repeated efforts to investigate Trump, even though the special counsel’s report had found no evidence of a conspiracy.
“The president was falsely accused of conspiracy. The FBI does a 10-month investigation and James Comey, when we deposed him a year ago, told us at that point they had nothing,” he said. “You do a 22-month investigation, at the end of that 22 months you find no conspiracy, and what’s the Democrats want to do? They want to keep investigating, they want to keep going.”
Since the report was released in April, Democrats have ramped up their investigations and subpoenas in hopes of gathering information that could be used to prepare for an impeachment proceeding. Mueller was subpoenaed to appear before Congress to testify about his report last month by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
During his questioning, the Ohio congressman grilled Mueller about his prosecutorial judgement, asking the former special counsel why he would charge Trump associates for false statements as well as “13 Russians no one’s ever heard of,” but not Joseph Mifsud, an academic of Maltese descent who had made false statements to the FBI three times, according to the Mueller report.
“He lied three times, you point it out in the report, why didn’t you charge him with a crime?” Jordan asked.
“I can’t get into internal deliberations with regard to who or who would not be charged,” Mueller replied.
Mifsud told Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, according to Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos shared this information with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer in a 2016 meeting. This is allegedly what prompted the FBI to begin a counterintelligence investigation of people in the Trump campaign.
“This is the guy who told Papadopoulos, he’s the guy who starts it all, and when the FBI interviews him, he lies three times, and yet you don’t charge him with a crime,” Jordan said.
He continued, “You charge Rick Gates for false statements, you charge Paul Manafort for false statements, you charge Michael Cohen with false statements, you charge Michael Flynn—a three star general—with false statements, but the guy who puts the country through this whole saga, starts it all—for three years we’ve lived this now—he lies and you guys don’t charge him.”
“And I’m curious as to why,” he added.
Mueller continued to avoid the question, saying that he cannot get into charging decisions. He also did not confirm whether he had interviewed Mifsud during an FBI interview in the lobby of a Washington hotel in February, according to the Mueller report, and did not answer a question about whether Mifsud is Western or Russian intelligence.
“A lot of things you can’t get into,” Jordan noted. “What’s interesting, you can charge 13 Russians no one’s ever heard of, no one’s ever seen, no one’s ever going to hear of them, no one’s ever going to see them, you can charge them, you can charge all kinds of people who are around the president with false statements, but the guy who launches everything, the guy who puts this whole story in motion, you can’t charge him,” he said.
Jordan went on to suggest to Mueller that he should have looked into the origins of the “false accusations.”
“Maybe a better course of action is to figure out how the false accusations started, maybe it’s to go back and actually figure out why Joseph Mifsud was lying to the FBI,” he said, adding that that was something Attorney General William Barr has started looking into.
Mueller said he won’t answer any questions about what started the false accusation that the President conspired with Russia.
Shouldn’t we be looking into the origins of the false accusation? Thank goodness Bill Barr is.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) July 24, 2019
After the hearing, Trump told reporters at the White House on July 24 that Mueller’s testimony didn’t turn out well for the opposition.
“We had a very good day today, the Republican Party, our country,” he said.
“There was no defense of what Robert Mueller was trying to defend, in all fairness to Robert Mueller. … There was no defense to this ridiculous hoax, this witch hunt that’s been going on for a long time, pretty much from the time I came down on the escalator with our first lady,” Trump added.
“It’s a disgrace what happened, but I think today proved a lot to everybody. In fact, I think some of my biggest opponents wrote things today that I wouldn’t have believed they would have written and I appreciate that they did that.”
TRUTH IS A FORCE OF NATURE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2019
On Twitter shortly before he spoke to reporters, Trump wrote: “TRUTH IS A FORCE OF NATURE!” Earlier in the day, he even thanked Democrats for holding the hearing.
Adrian Norman, a political commentator and a contributor to The Epoch Times, said it was “insane” that Mueller’s team decided not to charge Mifsud when he had charged Trump’s associates.
“It’s insane that Mueller’s team had no problem charging people within Trump’s orbit for allegedly lying, but failed to prosecute someone they admit lied repeatedly. It underscores what sham this whole investigation was,” Norman said.
Reacting to the hearing, Norman described it as “painful.”
“It’s unbelievable that Democrats forced this man into a hearing to prop up their conspiracy theories. Their only goal was to try and bait him into saying something they could spin and use for impeachment proceedings,” he added.
Zachary Stieber and Petr Svab contributed to this report.