Republicans React to Mueller’s Testimony During House Hearing

July 24, 2019 Updated: July 24, 2019

Republicans are taking to social media to react to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller was before the House Judiciary Committee on July 24 for the highly-anticipated hearing to answer lawmakers’ questions about his report that concluded President Donald Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. The report also did not arrive at a prosecutorial judgement about whether the president had obstructed justice.

After 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.).

As the hearing was taking place, many Republicans weighed in on Mueller’s responses, with some criticizing him for not being familiar with the content of his report.

“The more this hearing goes on, the more it becomes painfully clear that not only did Bob Mueller not write his own report—he was barely involved or in control of it at all. You know who was? His team of Democrats. This was a resistance-driven partisan witch hunt all along,” Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows (R-S.C.) wrote on Twitter responding to the hearing.

“This is remarkable. Mueller can’t answer key questions, seems unaware of basic information, and admitted he denied exoneration of Trump over a standard that doesn’t exist. No one needs to discredit this process. Team Mueller and House Democrats are discrediting it by themselves,” Meadows also wrote.

“Don’t let the left retroactively downplay the importance of today’s Mueller hearings because it went poorly for Democrats. They held mock hearings, practiced for cameras, and even set up a stand-in Jim Jordan. They went all in. It didn’t work. It flopped,” Meadows posted later in the day.

Similarly, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also commented on the hearing in a series of posts on Twitter.

“Wow. Robert Mueller changing the job of a prosecutor from proving someone ‘Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt’ to ‘Not being able to exonerate someone accused of a crime.’ Dangerous and ridiculous,” Graham wrote.

“Thus far Mueller completely contradicts what he told AG Barr about the reason not to proceed on the obstruction of justice. He told AG Barr that the decision not to proceed was not solely based on the OLC opinion but on complicated facts in the law,” he continued.

“Mueller hearing becoming very confusing and sad,” he added.

Donald Trump Jr. also reacted to Mueller’s responses during the hearing in a series of Twitter posts.

“If anyone still believes that this hoax was anything more then a leftist attempt to overthrow , this fact should end that notion once & for all. It’s time to investigate the investigators!!! They perpetrated this crime against America, they should pay for it!” he wrote in one of his posts.

President Trump also weighed in on the Mueller hearing by retweeting clips and Twitter threads of the hearing. After the hearing he wrote, “I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning’s hearing. Now, after 3 hours, Robert Mueller has to subject himself to an Embarrassment to our Country!”

On July 24, Mueller stood by the report’s conclusion, saying that he did not find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between President Trump and his associates with Russia, after being grilled by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. But he also stated that it did not exonerate the president from the obstruction of justice charge.

One Republican lawmaker, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), questioned Mueller about his team’s unusual decision to state in the report that the president was not exonerated from the obstruction of justice charge, despite not making a prosecutorial decision on it.

“Can you give an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?” Ratcliffe asked.

“I cannot, but this was a unique situation,” Mueller responded.

“You can’t find it, because I’ll tell you why—it doesn’t exist. The special counsel’s job, nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or that the special counsel report should determine whether or not to exonerate him,” Ratcliffe said.

“It’s not in any of the documents, it’s not in your appointment order, it’s not in the special counsel regulations, it’s not in the OLC (Office of Legal Opinion) opinions, it’s not in the Justice manual, and it’s not in the principles of federal prosecution.”

“Nowhere do those words appear together because, respectfully—respectfully, director—it was not the special counsel’s job to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or to exonerate him because the bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence.”

“It exists for everyone, everyone is entitled to it, including sitting presidents. And because there is a presumption of innocence, prosecutors never, ever need to conclusively determine it,” Ratcliffe added.

FBI veteran Marc Ruskin, who also served as an assistant district attorney in New York and a contributor to the Epoch Times, said the role of a prosecutor is not to exonerate or not exonerate a person who is suspected of a crime.

“That’s the job of a judge and jury. The investigators and the prosecutors present the evidence and they present the facts in the manner that should be most favorable to the truth and what they should be trying to seek is that justice is done,” Ruskin said.

“The job of exonerating, not to be repetitive, is the judge and jury who do the exonerating. So it’s important here that we keep a clear view of what the role is of the prosecutor and what the role is of the investigator. And it’s not to make a determination of guilt or innocence and it’s not [to] exonerate you or not exonerate. It’s to find the truth and present that to a judge and jury,” he added.

Ruskin, who is also the author of “The Pretender: My Life Undercover for the FBI,” said he believes the special counsel office did not handle the obstruction of justice charge well because there was “no underlying objective crime that was being obstructed.”

“My position as an attorney and also a former prosecutor would be that it would it’s very hard to bring to argue that there’s an obstruction of justice charge to be brought if there’s no underlying criminal act that was being obstructed,” Ruskin said. “So if one is being charged with a substantive crime then the argument can be made that there was also obstruction because of the individual or individuals being charged with the substantive crime then subsequently tried to obstruct the investigators and the prosecutor.”

“In this case the initial conclusion, after a very massive investigation, is that there was no underlying substantive crime. So how can one then suggest credibly that there was obstruction of justice when there was no underlying crime to be obstructed?” he added.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

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