Rep. Tom McClintock repeatedly appeared to get no satisfactory responses from former special counsel Robert Mueller during Wednesday’s Congressional hearing.
The California Republican became increasingly frustrated as his allotted time ticked away and Mueller continued to provide non-answers to questions about his report on Russian collusion and charges of obstruction.
Continuing his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller repeatedly responded that he could not comment on the questions McClintock was posing.
“You had three discussion with Rod Rosenstein about your appointment as special counsel,” the lawmaker said, recounting the dates in question. “Correct?”
“If you say so. I have no reason to dispute that,” Mueller responded.
McClintock presented other dates and the fact that Mueller met with President Trump a day before he was appointed special counsel over the investigation. The GOP congressman asked if Mueller had any idea he was under consideration for the appointment when he met with the president, to which he began a reply.
“I did not believe I was under consideration for counsel. I had served two terms as FBI Director, ” he said, measuring his words before McClintock jumped in to move him along.
“The answer is no,” he said, to which Mueller concurred.
“As additional information is coming to light, there’s a growing concern that political bias caused important facts to be omitted from your report in order to cast the president unfairly in a negative light,” McClintock went on, citing an example in which a phone transcript of a call with former Trump lawyer Micheal Cohen in Mueller’s report appeared to “hide” information by editing out a key portion that was later made public in the release of the full transcript.
“Why did you edit the transcript to hide the exculpatory part of the message?” he asked.
Mueller responded that he did not agree “with your characterization that we did anything to hide…”
“Well, you omitted it,” McClintock pressed.
“I’m not going to go further in terms of discussing,” the former special counsel began as the lawmaker pushed ahead to ask his next question about Konstantin Kilimnik who was described in Mueller’s report as a “Russian Ukranian political consultant and along-time employee of Paul Manafort.”
But the congressman noted that the special counsel’s report left out the pertinent fact that Kilimnik was a U.S. State Department intelligence source.
“Nowhere in your report was he so identified. Why was that fact omitted?” he asked.
“I don’t necessarily credit what you’re saying occurred,” Mueller said.
“Were you aware that Kilimnik was a State Department source?” McClintock pressed.
“I’m not going to go in the ins and outs of what we had in the course of our investigation,” Mueller deflected, adding “I can’t go into discussion of our investigative moves.”
McClintock appeared to become openly frustrated with the lack of progress in his questioning.
“The problem we’re having is we have to rely on your report for an accurate reflection of the evidence and we’re starting to find out that’s not true,” he said.
“Why did you suggest Russia was responsible for the troll farms when in court, you’ve been unable to produce any evidence to support it?” he asked Mueller who responded again with a non-answer.
“I’m not going to get into that any further than I already have,” he said, telling the lawmaker that he would “dispute your characterization of what occurred.”
After another attempt to get information failed, an exasperated McClintock finally could take no more.
“It’s starting to look like, having desperately tried and failed to make a legal case against the president, you made a political case instead,” he told Mueller.
“You put in a paper sack, lit it on fire, dropped it on our porch, rang the doorbell and ran!” he exclaimed.
“I don’t think that you reviewed a report that is as thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report that we have in front of us,”Mueller replied as McClintock’s time ran out.
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