Robert Mueller denied yesterday that Donald Trump had been exonerated of obstructing his two-year investigation into Russian election meddling but in his first testimony before Congress on the probe he again declined to accuse the United States president of a crime.
In high-stakes testimony, a shaky-voiced Mueller appeared uncertain as Democrats and Republicans peppered him with questions about the investigation, repeatedly asking lawmakers to respeat themselves or restate their query.
The 74-year-old former FBI chief and veteran prosecutor also repeatedly referred lawmakers to the report, and said he would not go beyond its text in his hotly anticipated appearances before two Democrat-led House committees.
But his answers made clear he took issue with Trump’s claim that the April report had exonerated him from charges of obstruction of justice.
“The finding indicates that the president was not exculpated from the acts that he allegedly committed,” Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee. The former special counsel emphasized that Russia did interfere with the 2016 election and did so to bolster Trump’s campaign against his rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton contrary to Trump’s repeated denials.
But he also said that neither the president nor others of his campaign were charged over cooperation with Russians because the investigation lacked sufficient support for conspiracy charges. “We found insufficient evidence of the president’s culpability,” he told the panel.