Dispatch July 25, 2019

Key Moments from Mueller’s Testimony

Mueller stated that Trump campaign’s behavior encouraged the Russian attack: In response to questions from Rep. Quigley, Mueller said that Trump campaign messaging was “giving some hope or boost to what is and should be illegal activity” by a hostile foreign intelligence agency.

Mueller said Trump was untruthful in his written responses: In response to Rep. Demings, Mueller revealed that Trump’s written responses were generally untruthful and that his written statements contradicted other evidence they collected.

Mueller said that the Trump campaign should have contacted the FBI, and that accepting foreign help can be a crime.  Mueller confirmed to Himes that candidates should report foreign dirt and that accepting it can, under some circumstances, be a crime.

Mueller said that the president should be held to a higher standard than evidence of criminality:

  • SCHIFF: We should hold our elected officials to a higher standard than mere evidence of criminality?
  • MUELLER: Certainly.

Mueller expressed concern that Trump’s behavior normalizes this kind of unpatriotic behavior: Mueller said “I fear” this new normal — that candidates can take dirt on their opponents from a hostile foreign power—and that “there would be no repercussions whatsoever to Russia if they did this again.”

Mueller confirmed to Schiff that Russia committed federal crimes to help Trump, and Trump helped Russia cover it up: 

  • SCHIFF: Russia committed federal crimes to help Donald Trump?
  • MUELLER: When you’re talking about the computer crimes charged in our case, absolutely.
  • SCHIFF: The Trump campaign officials built their strategy, their messaging strategy around the stolen documents?
  • MUELLER: Generally, that’s true.
  • SCHIFF: And they lied to cover it up?
  • MUELLER: Generally, that’s true.

Mueller confirmed that he did not say “no collusion,” he did not say “no obstruction,” and he did not say “total exoneration.” He also confirmed:

  • that the president refused to be interviewed;
  • that Manafort repeatedly shared polling data and discussed campaign strategy with a Russian operative.
  • that Trump wanted to fire him because Mueller was investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
  • that the president COULD be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office.
  • and that Trump and his accomplices succeeded in impeding his investigation.

Finally, Mueller said, “the Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious.”

Mueller’s report, his indictments, and two years of investigation don’t change the fundamentals of what happened in the 2016 election. A hostile foreign government attacked our democracy, with the explicit purpose of electing Donald Trump. Trump welcomed that help and did it so flagrantly that he trigged a counterintelligence investigation. He and his team then lied, obstructed, and abused the powers of government to interfere with the investigation. If Trump were anyone but the President of the United States, he would be in jail.