Russians still meddling in US elections and so are other countries: Mueller
Russia is still trying to meddle in US elections, former Special Counsel Robert E Mueller III told lawmakers on Wednesday in two rounds of Congressional hearings but offered no major revelations or insight and disappointed those who were expecting him to live up to the preceding hype.
“It wasn’t a single attempt,” Mueller said in response to a question. “They are doing it as we sit here and they expect to do so during the next campaign.” He went on to warn that it’s not just the Russians now. “Many more countries were developing capability to replicate what the Russians have done.”
Mueller first testified before the House judiciary committee and then the intelligence committee. He spoke slowly and haltingly, appeared confused at times but determined to go beyond his 448-page report, which is publicly available with reactions to protect ongoing investigations and witnesses.
The special counsel did, however, state that his report had “not exculpated” the president as the latter had claimed multiple times and also contradicted Trump’s allegations that Mueller was conflicted because he had interviewed to head the FBI. Mueller said he did meet the president but not as a candidate.
In another damning observation on the president — whom he once called just “Trump” and hastened to correct himself — the special counsel said he “generally” agreed with a Democratic lawmaker’s observation that the president “wasn’t always being truthful” in the written replies to Mueller’s team.
The special counsel also explained why he did not subpoena to question the president in person. He said he had negotiated with Trump for over a year and got nowhere and there was every expectation that the president would have fought the subpoena as well and that could have prolonged the probe.
The two hearings were marked by Democrats’ attempt to get Mueller to say or offer damaging information that could be used to make a case for impeaching the president as many in the party want to. And Republicans, as expected, were determined to discredit the special counsel, his team and his report.
At the end of the hearings, the president, who had watched it and tweeted, declared victory. “We had a good day today,” Trump told reporters. “This was a devastating day for the Democrats”. who he said “had nothing. And now they have less than nothing..”
The president also had a word for the former special counsel. “I think Robert Mueller did a horrible job, both today and with respect to the investigation,” he said, adding,
“Obviously he did very poorly today. I don’t think there’s anybody — even among the fakers — I don’t think there’s anybody that would say he did well.”