Gaetz Grills Mueller, Exposes Political Bias of Russia Probe
Rep. Matt Gaetz probes Robert Mueller during tense questioning on his investigation
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) grilled former special counsel Robert Mueller during his congressional hearing on Wednesday, seemingly exposing political bias during his Russia Probe.
With a powerful line of questioning, Gaetz accused Mueller of going easy on Democrats who were lying to him while being tough on Republicans and allies of Trump, providing several specific examples.
"So it's not your purview to look into whether or not Steele's lying," Gaaetz asked Mueller, referring to anti-Trump Steele Dossier author Christopher Steele.
"It's not your purview to look into whether or not anti-Trump Russians are looking into Steele.
"And, it's not your purview to look into whether or not Glenn Simpson was meeting with the Russians...?" Gaetz said, referring to the founder of Fusion GPS - -the firm hired by the Clinton campaign to find "dirt" on the Trump campaign.
Florida Republican Gaetz continued to press Mueller on the nature of the Steele Dossier, asking:
“Can you state with confidence that the Steele dossier was not part of Russia’s disinformation campaign?”
“That part of the building of the case predated me,” Mueller responded.
“Manafort’s alleged crimes... predated you," Gaetz declared, referring to former Trump campaign official, Paul Manafort.
"You had no problem charging them.”
Rep. @MattGaetz (R-FL): “Can you state with confidence that the Steele dossier was not part of Russia’s disinformation campaign?”— Kyle Morris (@RealKyleMorris) July 24, 2019
Mueller: “That part of the building of the case predated me.”
Gaetz: “Manafort’s alleged crimes... predated you. You had no problem charging them.” pic.twitter.com/3XFwBxG0Eu
During further questioning from Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller said that he was “not familiar” with Fusion GPS.
Mueller revealed a surprising lack of familiarity with the opposition research firm that commissioned the Steele dossier during an exchange with Chabot.
“When you talk about the firm that produced the Steele reporting, the name of the firm that produced that was Fusion GPS, is that correct?” Chabot asked.
“I’m not familiar with that,” said Mueller, while scouring through his 448-page report of the Russia probe.
“Let me just help you. It was...” said Chabot.
"It’s not a trick question or anything. It was Fusion GPS."
According to the Daily Caller, Chabot laid out links between Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who attended the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Trump associates.
“This is outside my purview,” Mueller said when asked about the issue.
Mueller’s lack of familiarity with Fusion GPS and Simpson is something of a surprise given its prominent role in creating the dossier, which former British spy Christopher Steele authored and the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign funded.
The FBI relied heavily on the dossier to obtain wiretap warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The Justice Department’s inspector general is investigating whether the FBI misled the federal surveillance court by relying on Steele’s unverified report.
Mueller’s investigation undercut the dossier’s core allegation that the Trump campaign engaged in a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” with the Russian government.
Mueller told lawmakers in his opening remarks that he would not discuss the dossier or the origins of the Russia probe.
“I, therefore, will not be able to answer questions about certain areas that I know are of public interest,” Mueller said.
"For example, I’m unable to address questions about the initial opening of the FBI's Russia investigation, which occurred months before my appointment, or matters related to the so-called Steele dossier.
“These are matters of ongoing review by the department and any questions on these topics should be directed to the FBI or Justice Department,” he added.