Report doesn’t exonerate Trump of justice obstruction – Mueller
By Dayo Benson, New York
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, yesterday restated that his report does not exonerate President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice despite claims by the President’s to the contrary. Trump himself has described the allegation as a hoax and a political witch-hunt.
Mueller affirmed this in his testimony before House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary over the 2016 Russia interference in the US Presidential election and obstruction of justice.
In his response to a question, Mueller said “the report does not exonerate the President.”
He reaffirmed the President attempted to “influence the report.”
Mueller told the Committee that Trump refused to be interviewed and declined to provide answers to written questions.
Mueller in his opening remarks informed the Committee that his testimony would be limited to the content of his report.
He however contradicted the report when asked if collusion and obstruction conveyed same meaning.
He confirmed Russia’s interference in the US 2016 presidential election which he said was to “benefit candidate Trump.”
The ex-marine and former Director of FBI confirmed that President Trump put pressure on former Attorney General Jeff Session to unrecuse himself from the Mueller probe in order to protect the President .
Mueller who hesitated and sometimes appeared uncertain in his responses confirmed President Trump attempted to fire him in the course of his investigation.
He affirmed Trump was advised against such an action as it would lend credence to the allegation of obstruction of justice.
The former special counsel stood by the content of his report that Trump wanted him fired because the President knew he was being investigated for obstruction of justice.
Mueller whose responses were affirmation or denial of excerpts from the volume one of his 448-page report, said the President instructed former White House Counsel Don Mcgahn to deny he (Trump) ordered Mcgahn to fire the Special Counsel after the New York Times broke the story.
A Republican congressman confronted Mueller with the fact that he went outside his brief on the issue of obstruction of justice.
The former FBI boss was told he violated the Department of Justice (DOJ guideline) by reaching a conclusion on the President‘s culpability or not.
The former special counsel was told that he failed to write a confidential letter to the AG on his findings as required by DOJ regulation.
Mueller admitted a sitting President cannot be indicted according to DOJ guideline , hence the report neither indict nor exonerate the President.
Republicans made repeated attempt to damage Mueller’s credibility during the testimony.
Democrats were however consistent in their efforts to establish a crime of obstruction of justice against Trump. Mueller reiterated that the President’s act of asking the former White House Counsel to lie that he ordered him to fire the special counsel had the three elements of justice obstruction.
Mueller was accused of selective prosecution which he denied.
He resisted several attempts to be drawn into the facts, issues and conclusions outside his report
Despite repeated attempts by the Republicans to absolve the President of obstruction of justice by not firing Mueller, the Democrats somewhat succeeded in establishing that attempts to interfere with the investigations amounted to a crime of obstruction of justice.
While responding to the republicans allegation that his investigation and report were politically biased in terms of membership composition, Mueller emphasized that he hired people based on their capability rather than political affiliations.
In his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee which lasted about two hours, Mueller reemphasized Russia’s interference in 2016 and future elections, saying “They are doing it as we sit here and they are expected to do it at the next campaign.”