Republican members of the Judiciary Committee refused to ask Robert Mueller questions about evidence of Trump obstructing justice.
Special counsel Robert Mueller spent more than three hours testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, and Republicans used that time to attack his credibility and ask questions about unfounded conspiracy theories.
At the beginning of the hearing, Mueller declared unequivocally that his investigation did not exonerate Trump. Despite this acknowledgement, Republicans on the committee did not use their time to look into the 10 instances of obstruction of justice described in detail in Mueller's report.
For example, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of Trump's staunchest defenders in Congress, focused his questions on the veracity of the Steele Dossier, a report full of salacious information compiled by a former British intelligence agent. As Mueller stated at the beginning of his testimony, he would not delve into the allegations and conspiracies surrounding the beginning of the special counsel's investigation.
Other Republicans, like Pennsylvania Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, attacked Mueller directly. Reschenthaler went so far as to call Mueller "un-American" just for doing his job as special counsel.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan used his time to ask questions about an obscure Maltese professor who was tangentially related to the the origins of the FBI investigation rather than potential obstruction of justice by Trump.
North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong spent time asking Mueller about his hiring and firing practices, alleging that Mueller's team did not have the integrity necessary to do their job. Rather than examine the evidence in the report, Kelly sought to sow discord by attacking those who worked under Mueller.
In an odd twist, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert was one of the few members to even bring up Trump's obstruction. However, Gohmert said that by obstructing justice, Trump was really "pursuing justice," and it was Mueller who "perpetuated injustice."
When Colorado Rep. Ken Buck veered close to asking Mueller about potential obstruction of justice, and Mueller's decision not to make a recommendation of charging Trump with a crime, the questioning resulted in Mueller admitting that Trump can be charged with obstruction of justice once he leaves office.
None of the Republican members delved into the evidence in the 448-page report that described 10 separate times Trump sought to derail the Mueller investigation. In one of the instances described in the report, Trump demanded that White House counsel Don McGahn fire Mueller. After McGahn refused to do so, Trump ordered him to create a false paper trail and lie, saying Trump never asked him to fire Mueller.
On the other side of the aisle, Democratic members of the committee asked questions about the substance of the Mueller report, including the facts surrounding the instances of obstruction of justice.
In just three minutes of questioning, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) laid out evidence that Trump's actions, described in the report, show "all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice have been met."
Mueller spent nearly two years investigating serious allegations levied against Trump. But rather than focus on the substance of Mueller's report, Republicans instead spent three hours asking about everything but Trump's alleged obstruction of justice.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.