Sensenbrenner Pushes Mueller At Hearing
What is impeachable conduct, congressman probes. Mueller declines to answer.
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who was a central figure in President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, thinks it’s noteworthy that former special counsel Robert Mueller didn’t use the term “impeachable conduct” in his report into Russian election interference.
Sensenbrenner, a longtime member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, was one of dozens of lawmakers who questioned Mueller during back-to-back appearances before two different panels on Wednesday.
When Clinton was investigated by independent counsel Ken Starr, he said that Clinton’s actions “may have risen to impeachable conduct,” recalled Sensenbrenner, who served on the House Judiciary Committee at the time and later served as a manager in Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial.
“Is it true that there’s nothing in volume two of the report that says that the president may have engaged in impeachable conduct?” the Wisconsin Republican asked Mueller.
But Mueller said making such a recommendation wasn’t part of his job. “Our mandate does not go to other ways of addressing conduct,” he told Sensenbrenner.
Sensenbrenner’s response later in the day was to send out a release on the Mueller hearing titled, “Case Closed.”
Little new information was revealed during Wednesday’s hearings, as the famously scripted Mueller largely stuck to the findings of his report, and repeatedly refused to answer lawmakers’ speculative questions.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, kicked off questioning Wednesday morning by pressing Mueller on President Trump’s claims that he had been cleared by the report’s findings.
Mueller confirmed that his investigation did not “completely and totally exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice.
“The report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice,” Nadler said. Mueller replied, “That is correct.”
Nadler continued, “And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the president?” Mueller responded, “No.”
The report, Nadler went on, “expressly states that it does not exonerate the president.” Mueller said, “It does.”
Just before the hearing kicked off, Trump made his latest declaration on Twitter that the report found “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION!”
‘This should have blown their minds’
House Democrats said it was important for the public to hear Mueller confirm portions of his report.
“For people who have read the Mueller report or followed these issues, this hearing was not surprising,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters after the hearing. “For people who did not, this should have blown their minds, because they saw for the first time Robert Mueller saying yes to multiple instances of obstruction of justice by Donald Trump.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, said, “The critical thing is that the American people saw overwhelming and devastating evidence of obstruction of justice relayed in fine detail both by the committee and by the witness and it’s irrefutable.” Raskin called Mueller’s testimony “a great victory for the truth and for the possibility of justice in the country.”
Several other Republicans questioning Mueller attacked the integrity of his investigation and accused Democrats of using the hearings as political theater.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) accused Mueller’s team of having “infamous and widely publicized bias,” and defended the president’s frustrations during the long-running investigation.
“Mr. Mueller, there’s one primary reason why you were called here today,” Johnson said. “Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle just want political cover. They desperately wanted you today to tell them they should impeach the president.”
Mueller again declined to discuss impeachment.
Trump said earlier this week that he “probably” wasn’t going to be watching Mueller testify, but his Twitter feed Wednesday morning was packed with clips and comments from the House hearings. “I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning’s hearing,” he tweeted after Mueller’s first appearance.
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.