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LIVE UPDATES: Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill

Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2019 @ 7:10 AM

After almost two years of investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller will be on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to appear before a pair of House committees and answer questions about the Russia investigation.

Mueller made clear back in April that he would not have much to say at any hearing, emphasizing that he would stay within the confines of his report, which raised questions about possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, but found no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign.

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3:28 pm - The hearing is over.  Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee certainly were more effective in getting answers from Mueller on the record than their counterparts earlier today on the Judiciary Committee.

3:20 pm - One thing that Mueller has emphasized much more today before the House Intelligence Committee is the threat of foreign meddling in US elections.

3:10 pm - One interesting nugget - Mueller won't say if President Trump asserted his Fifth Amendment rights at any point.

3:06 pm - The most extensive answer yet from Mueller at today's hearings is on why he decided not to subpoena President Trump - Mueller was worried that it would lead to a lengthy legal battle.

3:01 pm - Asked by Rep. Peter Welch D-VT about whether this type of foreign influence on the U.S. election is the new normal, Mueller again issues a warning about foreign meddling.

“I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is,” Mueller said.

2:49 pm - Mueller has repeatedly raised red flags about Russian interference in the U.S. elections, saying it wasn't just in 2016.

"It wasn't a single attempt,” he told Rep. Will Hurd R-TX.  “They're doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign."

2:43 pm - Not all of the action is happening inside the hearing room.  Outside in the hall, someone is in the custody now of U.S. Capitol Police.

2:35 pm - Republicans keep asking about Joseph Misfud, the Steele Dossier, and other subjects involved in the counter-intelligence investigation - and they are getting nowhere.  His responses have drawn the attention of the President's re-election campaign, which put together this video, and a number of others about what's been said today.

2:15 pm - The issue of Wikileaks has come up today for the first time, and Mueller weighed in on how the President had openly praised Wikileaks for publicizing the hacked emails of top Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta.

2:10 pm - The Intelligence Committee takes a short break.  So far, there has been no bombshells in this hearing, though Democrats - mainly Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA - have put Mueller on the record countering the President in a number of ways about the Russia investigation.

2:05 pm - Rep Chris Stewart R-UT brings up Roger Stone, and clashes with Mueller on leaks, citing an argument which doesn't seem to have much truth to it, that the Special Counsel's Office tipped off CNN to the Stone raid and arrest in January.

1:50 pm - After Mueller this morning said that his report did not 'exonerate' the President, Rep. Mike Turner R-OH presses Mueller about that, arguing that Mueller has no power to declare whether anyone has been exonerated in the investigation.

1:30 pm - This tweet might be another hint that Democrats feel the day is running against them in the Mueller hearings, as Sen. Brian Schatz D-HI voices his frustration with the tenor of stories by reporters on Capitol Hill.

1:20 pm - The questioning by Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA brings out a series of answers from Mueller, including him saying that the Russia investigation 'was not a witch hunt.'

1:15 pm - In his opening statement, Mueller immediately tries to make a correction from the morning hearing by re-framing his answer to Rep. Ted Lieu D-CA on why no obstruction charges were brought against President Trump.

1:05 pm - You can tell that Republicans feel good about how today has gone so far.  And that applies to the President as well.

1:00 pm - The top Republican on the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA, lays into the Russia investigation, as we start what could be a more chippy hearing than the first one today, as Nunes accuses the FBI of multiple investigative abuses.

12:55 pm  - The second hearing is underway with Mueller before the House Intelligence Committee - it is taking place in the same room as the morning hearing.

Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA isn't mincing words as he begins.

12:40 pm - As we wait for the second hearing to begin before the House Intelligence Committee, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham weighs in with a comment from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

12:20 pm - Like after a Presidential debate, the 'spin room' outside of today's hearing is underway.  Rep. Doug Collins R-GA says there was 'nothing that moved the needle today,' as Collins argues it is 'time to move on' to other issues, like immigration.

12:10 pm - “The hearing is now adjourned.”

12:05 pm - What happened today?  Mueller refused to answer a number of questions.

12:00 pm - As the first hearing comes to a close, it is clear there will be a big debate among Democrats on their strategy.  They tried to use the hearing to put the facts of the Mueller Report in the public arena - but did it work?

11:55 am - Rep. Mike Johnson R-LA asks about impeachment - another instance of where Republicans seem to be asking questions that Democrats might have wanted to ask.   Mueller refuses to say if he was recommending that the House undertake impeachment proceedings.

11:50 am - Maybe the most animated that Mueller has been today was when he was criticized by GOP lawmakers about hiring a group of biased lawyers for the Russia investigation.

“I have not had occasion once to ask somebody about their political affiliation,” Mueller said.  “It is not done.”

11:45 am - Mueller is asked about Donald Trump Jr. refusing to cooperate with the Russia investigation, and whether Trump Jr. took the Fifth amendment, or made clear he was going to refuse to answer questions.

Mueller refuses to give an answer.

11:40 am - Democrats have tried to use today's hearing to get out more details about obstruction of justice involved in the Russia investigation.  This is the Q&A from Rep. Val Demings D-FL, which Democrats shows Trump Campaign and other officials liked about their contacts with various Russians.

11:30 am - From the sidelines, GOP lawmakers are joining the attacks on Robert Mueller.

11:20 am - Rep.Guy Reschenthaler R-PA goes down the same line as other Republicans about volume 2 on obstruction of justice. But Reschenthaler goes one step further, and calls Mueller's actions to put information on obstruction of justice questions in the report, “Un-American.”

11:15 am - Republicans continue to ask questions about Volume 2 of the report, centering on obstruction of justice. And they've been taking shots at Mueller from the dais as well - this is from Rep. Debbie Lesko R-AZ.

10:57 am - Interesting exchange between Rep. Ted Lieu D-CA and Mueller, as Democrats try to get Mueller to explicitly say why President Trump was not indicted.

Lieu: "The reason you didn't indict the president for obstruction of justice is because of the OLC memo saying you couldn't indict him, is that correct?"

Mueller: "Correct"

Democrats seized on that immediately.

10:55 am - Here is the back and forth between Mueller and Buck.

10:45 am - Under questioning by Rep. Ken Buck R-CO, Buck seemingly elicits answers more favorable to Democrats, as Mueller says the reason that no charges were brought on the issue of obstruction against the President was simple - that current DOJ policy does not allow that.  Mueller also made clear that he thought it would be legitimate to indict a President *after* he leaves the job.

10:30 am - This is a good summary of the hearing so far.  Democrats have tried to use the hearing to put the details of obstruction of justice on the record.  It may not be as effective as the loud protests of GOP lawmakers.

10:25 am - The hearing resumes with Democrats slowly walking Mueller through questions about obstruction of justice, while Republicans continue to press Mueller about his decision-making, accusing him of prosecutorial bias.

10:15 am - President Trump has tweeted during this break, weighing in with some observations from Chris Wallace of Fox News, who is often derided by conservatives as not being conservative enough.

10:05 am - The committee takes a break.  I should note that some reporters are watching the hearing - not from the hearing room - but from other places, like a Washington, D.C. bar:

10:00 am - Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH tries to press Mueller about the origins of the FBI investigation.   “Can't get into that,” Mueller says repeatedly. 

9:55 am - Democrats are taking Mueller through a number of specific events outlined in volume two of the report on obstruction of justice. 

9:50 am - Pressed on a number of fronts by Rep. Martha Roby R-AL, Mueller says he attended 'very few' of the witness interviews which were conducted in the Russia investigation.

9:40 am - Rep. Louie Gohmert R-TX - who has a history of sparring with Mueller at hearings - bores in on Mueller over his friendship with former FBI Director James Comey, Mueller's credibility, the firing of FBI official Peter Strzok.

9:30 am - Rep. Steve Chabot R-OH tries to get Mueller to talk about Fusion GPS & the Steele Dossier, but Mueller says repeatedly, "That's outside my purview."

9:20 am - Here is some video of the exchange between Ratcliffe and Mueller.

9:10 am - Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) - a former federal prosecutor - criticizes Mueller for saying that President Trump was not exonerated, saying there is no Department of Justice policy for such a declaration, accusing Mueller of violating DOJ policy on 'extra prosecutorial analysis.'

9:03 am - Here is the video of that Mueller exchange:

9:00 am - Here is the early headline from the AP:

8:55 am - The questioning of Mueller begins.  Democratic chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) asks Mueller if there was no obstruction of justice.

Mueller answers bluntly.

“No.”

8:45 am - Mueller said his goal was to complete the investigation 'fairly and with absolute integrity.'

8:42 am - After opening statements, Mueller is sworn in for his testimony.

8:30 am - The hearing is underway. 

If you click on the link at the Judiciary Committee website for Mueller's testimony - it leads to....

The entire Mueller Report.

8:15 am - On this same day 45 years ago, the House Judiciary Committee was in session, starting hearings on articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. 

Also, the US Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that Nixon must turn over the Watergate tapes.  Nixon would resign on August 9, 1974.

8:05 am - Inside the hearing room, it's not a huge arena.  It may look that way on TV, but it's not huge.  This is the same room where lawmakers debated the impeachment of President Nixon in July and August of 1974.

7:55 am - The lines are long to get in to the Mueller hearing.

7:45 am - More from the White House residence:

7:40 am - It seems like the President is ready to watch the day's proceedings.

7:35 am - Just a reminder that you can read the Mueller Report on line.

7:30 am - Some people were in line all night for the Mueller hearing, as the line to get into the Judiciary Committee hearing room extends outside the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.

7:25 am - Democrats don't believe the President is going to boycott today's hearing with Mueller.

7:15 am - If President Trump wants to watch the entire hearing, he will certainly have time to do that, as his schedule seems to be clear of any events.  Mr. Trump will go to West Virginia later today for a fundraising event.

7:05 am - President Trump is already up and tweeting about the Mueller hearing, echoing GOP complaints that Mueller will have a top aide from the investigation with him at the hearing.

7:00 am - President Trump has said he's not going to be watching Mueller - or at least not much of the hearing.  After at first celebrating the Mueller Report - “no collusion, no obstruction” - the President has expressed his frustration with the fact that Mueller will be testifying at all.

6:50 am - For Republicans, today's hearing is a chance to more publicly explain why they think the Russia investigation was a farce from the start.  It will be interesting to see how deeply the GOP tries to push Mueller about questions of bias on the Russia probe.

6:45 am - For Democrats, today's hearing is a chance to more publicly explain the contents of the Mueller Report - which most members of Congress, and most Americans - have not read.  

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