Well, ex-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first round of testimony is over. The House Judiciary Committee is done, but the Intelligence Committee is about to start. So, we have to endure another couple hours of this circus. If Democrats were hoping to re-ignite this Russian collusion nonsense, they overreached. Mueller seemed aloof. He had trouble hearing. He forgot certain portions of the report. It was, as Fox News’ Chris Wallace aptly noted, a total disaster for Democrats. One area he stonewalled was the Trump dossier compiled by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele. It was a political opposition research project, funded by the Clinton campaign and used as key evidence in securing FISA spy warrant against former Trump campaign official Carter Page.
Jordan: What role did your office play in the third FISA renewal against Carter Page?— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 24, 2019
Mueller: I'm not going to answer that.
That was the Hindenberg of congressional testimony. Yeeesh.— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) July 24, 2019
This document is the epicenter of the whole Russian collusion/interference circus. It’s the Holy Grail. And it was bullet-riddled by Mueller's report. It was already largely unverified. It was mostly viewed as trash. Mueller’s report only confirmed that, but the ex-special counsel decided he didn’t want to talk about Fusion GPS even though he cites it in his report, which he may or may not have written. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) aptly noted that if anti-Trump Russians were feeding Steele misinformation, isn’t that part of his purview? Mueller more than once said that this was outside of his mandate, which led to Gaetz taking him to the woodshed. He also touched upon what appears to be gross bias within the whole probe, notably fired and disgrace FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who reportedly signed off on the initial counterintelligence probe into Russian collusion when this was solely a bureau investigation, and “attorney number two,” who worked for Mueller and was later dismissed, though the former special counsel didn’t want to elaborate on that during the hearing either.
Mueller can't recall who provided one of the most salacious quotes in the Report, in which Trump purportedly exclaims "I'm fucked." (It was Jody Hunt, Sessions chief-of-staff.) Isn't that something you'd remember? Did he prepare at all for this hearing?— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 24, 2019
Mueller says he is not "not familiar" with Fusion GPS, and it's outside his purview. That's such a joke. The activities of Fusion GPS in relation to the 2016 election were squarely within his purview, and he knows it. Transparent obfuscation— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 24, 2019
Chris Wallace calling this "a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller...it raises questions as to the degree to which he was actually in charge and control of this report."— Jonathan Easley (@JonEasley) July 24, 2019
Thank you. Gaetz asking why Mueller didnt investigate dossier as potential Russian disinformation. It was central to the job of looking at Russian interference. #MuellerHearing— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) July 24, 2019
Page: “Trump’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?”— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) July 24, 2019
Strzok: “No…we’ll stop him”
Gaetz: “Did Bob Mueller ever ask you about that text message?”
Strzok: “He did not.”#MuellerHearings pic.twitter.com/4rzC54AHA9
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer at the center of the “Trump Tower Meeting,” got much of her information from Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson, the same company that put together the phony Trump Dossier. #MuellerHearings pic.twitter.com/Qx6GDgw94i— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) July 24, 2019
Gaetz: "Can you state with confidence the Steele dossier was not part of Russia's disinformation campaign?"— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) July 24, 2019
Mueller: "With regard to Steele...that's beyond my purview."
Gaetz: "It's exactly your purview! The organizing principle was to fully investigate Russia's interference!" pic.twitter.com/z5E5Gl7xZU
Mueller Is Finished.— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 24, 2019
Rep. @mattgaetz buried him.
Gaetz: Can you state that the Steele dossier wasn't Russian disinformation?
Mueller: Dossier is before my time.
Gaetz: So were Manafort's crimes. You charged him.
Mueller: Not my purview.
Gaetz: IT IS IN YOUR REPORT! pic.twitter.com/e0hHqW0wcC
Circling back to the dossier, Mueller played dumb on Fusion GPS, who hired Steele after being contracted by the Clinton campaign to find dirt on Trump, which seems just too good to be true. Philip Klein at WeX wondered how was this possible (via Washington Examiner):
Mueller “isn’t familiar” with Fusion GPS? Then why IN HIS OWN REPORT did he call them “the firm that produced the Steele reporting?” and cite a reference to a NYT story which names Fusion GPS? ?????? pic.twitter.com/bp6pmqRgvT— Undercover Huber (@JohnWHuber) July 24, 2019
One odd exchange came when Rep. Steve Chabot. R-Ohio, tried to bring up Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to dig up dirt on Trump, and ended up hiring British spy Christopher Steele to compile salacious and unverified information on Trump's ties to Russia.
Mueller, looking at a binder with a copy of the report, asked, "And you're on page 103?"
Chabot asked again, "When you talk about the firm that produced the Steele reporting. The name of the firm that produced that was Fusion GPS. Is that correct?"
Mueller responded, "I'm not familiar with that."
How is that even possible? It's one thing to argue that he isn't going to answer questions with reference to Fusion GPS (something he did in follow up questions, with the phrase "it's outside my purview"), but how on earth could he not be familiar with the firm that has played such a key role in the Russia story?
This is becoming one big in-kind contribution to the Trump re-elect campaign. Luckily, Attorney General William Barr is looking into the origins of the Russia investigation. Hopefully, this will be cleared up in due time.
The Clinton campaign and their party solicited the assistance of a foreign spy working with Russia to leak discredited Russian oppo material to the press and use the subsequent stories as some justification to surveil private citizens due to politics. It should scare people.— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) July 24, 2019