Pa. representatives stick to party line in Mueller hearing

The three members focused on why Mueller didn't indict Trump, and whether his findings cleared the president of obstruction.

  • Katie Meyer/WITF

(Harrisburg) Three Pennsylvania members of Congress had a chance to question former Special Counsel Robert Mueller Wednesday about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Like most of their colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, they appeared to have wildly different reactions to his report based on their party affiliation.

Democrats focused on Mueller’s conclusion that his investigation had not cleared President Donald Trump of any wrongdoing. Republicans, meanwhile, repeatedly disparaged the fact that Mueller detailed potential misconduct on Trump’s part, while still not indicting him.

That’s the tack Pennsylvania Republican Guy Reschenthaler took — and with which Mueller took issue.

“You compiled nearly 450 pages of the very worst information you gathered against the target of your investigation, who happens to be the president of the United States, and you did this knowing that you were not going to recommend charges, and that the report would be made public,” Reschenthaler said, going on to call Mueller’s process “un-American.”

“Not true,” Mueller responded.

He maintains his scrutiny of Trump was warranted, and said during questioning that he did not take action against Trump for obstruction because of a Justice Department opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Mueller later said his team “did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”

The approaches by the two Democrats from Pennsylvania, Mary Gay Scanlon and Madeleine Dean, were less contentious.

Scanlon noted Mueller’s finding that Trump asked about, and seemed to know about Wikileaks releases that might be harmful to the Clinton campaign.

In the report, Trump denied asking about Wikileaks.

Dean’s questions revolved around whether Mueller cleared Trump of wrongdoing.

As in most of the questioning, Mueller declined to elaborate on his findings. So, Dean summed them up herself.

“Let us be clear,” she said. “Your report did not exonerate the president. Instead, it provided substantial evidence of obstruction of justice, leaving Congress to do its duty. We shall not shrink from that duty.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify Robert Mueller’s statements on indictment, and that his team didn’t determine if the president had committed a crime.
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