GOP Prepares to Grill Robert Mueller About Origins of Russia Investigation
Republicans to ask about political biases of the investigative team
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are planning to question Robert Mueller about the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, political biases of the investigative team, and British ex-spy Christopher Steele's dossier.
The Republicans will also interrogate Mueller about the conclusions he reached on obstruction and collusion.
Mueller’s report concluded Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election but said there was no conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign.
Mueller listed 11 possible instances of obstruction of justice but didn't specify what they were.
Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said no obstruction took place.
Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona said that the main question for Mueller is:
“How did this whole Russian investigation start?"
The FBI's probe into alleged Trump and Russia connections began in late July 2016, but many Republicans insist it was earlier.
Biggs added another burning question would be how early did Mueller conclude there was no collusion with Trump and Russia.
“When did you know that there was no conspiracy between Donald Trump and the Russians?” Biggs said.
“And if it was well before the 2018 midterms, why did you wait so long, and why didn’t you disclose that?”
Biggs said that it would be crucial for Mueller to disclose what discovered about Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign’s connections to foreigners, or foreign governments in 2016.
Trey Gowdy suggested in May that the FBI intentionally withheld "game-changer" evidence from the FISA court while they obtained a surveillance warrant against Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
In May, Attorney General Willaim Barr said the FBI's use of the unverified Steele Dossier as counterintelligence against Donald Trump's presidential campaign was "very unusual" and will be investigated.
“It’s a very unusual situation to have opposition research like that, especially one that on its face had a number of clear mistakes and a somewhat jejune analysis,” the attorney general told Fox News host Bill Hemmer.
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler told the Washington Examiner he wants answers about the origins of the investigation and possible abuse of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by "securing a warrant based on the Democrat’s political opposition research.”
In 2018, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz launched an investigation into the FBI and the DOJ filing four FISA applications and renewals to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page n the back of Steele’s dossier.
Reschenthaler also said he wants to know about “the leaks from Mueller’s team and what he did to stop them.”
“I’d like to hear if he approves of this kind of behavior in the upper echelons of our top law enforcement agency," Reschenthaler said.
Rep. Greg Steube of Florida said he had questions about the way Mueller conducted his investigation.
“How did we get to a place where we spent 22 months, had 40 FBI personnel investigating, issued 2,800-plus subpoenas and nearly 500 search warrants, interviewed 500 witnesses, and spent over $12 million dollars only to find nothing?” Steube said.
Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said that “the Mueller report is exactly what could be expected from a stable of attorneys who despise Donald Trump and love Hillary Clinton.”
Biggs said that Mueller seemed to be trying to “massage” potential crimes such as obstruction of justice instead of just presenting the facts and applying the law.
Ultimately, Mueller didn't charge Trump with any crimes.
“Our friends on the other side didn’t like the results of the Mueller report, so they’re basically trying to reopen the investigation,” Biggs said.
“This, to me, has always looked like it was political theater as opposed to really legitimate oversight.”
Biggs said he believed Mueller’s testimony was part of the strategy by the Democrats to impeach Trump.
“I mean, that’s really the bottom line here,” Biggs said.
“I think that’s the goal.”