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Mueller's Seven-Hour Testimony Changed Nothing

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ROBERT MUELLER Our report contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. I do not intend to summarize or describe the results of our work in a different way in the course of my testimony today. As I said on May 29th, the report is my testimony and I will stay within that text.

MARC STEINER Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Marc Steiner. Good to have you all with us.

So just what have we learned after more than seven hours of two congressional committees having hearings with the former Special Counsel, Robert Mueller? The sparks did fly from some committee members with pretty predictable questions from either side, while Mueller strongly demurred as he said he would from the very beginning and only as he said stick to the text. Did anything new or revealing come through on the issues of exoneration, collusion, obstruction of justice, and the alleged Russian interference with the 2016 election? Did this put the Democrats any closer to impeachment hearings? It seems both Democrats and Republicans will walk away screaming victory at these hearings, so what did we really learn?

Well, we're joined by Coleen Rowley who is a former FBI Agent and congressional candidate. Because of her whistle-blowing work and work on the 9/11 attacks, she was a Time magazine's "Woman of the Year" in 2002 and now joins us here at The Real News. Welcome, Coleen. Good to have you with us.

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COLEEN ROWLEY Yes. Thanks.

MARC STEINER So I mean, as someone who follows these things, who spent a long time looking at this and writing numerous articles, what did we learn new? What did these seven hours of hearings I'm sure you were just glued; you couldn't get away what did they say to you? [laughs]

COLEEN ROWLEY Well, it was excruciating to really sit there for seven hours. And I think what we did learn is that Robert Mueller knows how to say "I won't answer" in six or seven different ways. He kept saying "it's not within my purview," "I can't speak to that," "it's not my jurisdiction." He said, "I stand on the report" a lot of times, "I can't get into that." So he did find a few ways not to answer the question and that is really boring after seven hours of listening to that. I actually learned one thing because I worked under Robert Mueller for about three years at the end of my career after 9/11. And of course, I had written a memo that Mueller himself had covered up after 9/11 this failure to act on and share intelligence, that that was really one of the big problems that had led to 9/11, which was all being covered up afterwards and essentially by Robert Mueller, who was leading a mission to put immigrants in New York City that had nothing to do with terrorism into detention and claim that we are making progress.

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And so, what was frustrating was to see that the Congress people of both parties kept putting him on this pedestal as a pillar of integrity. You know, he served in Vietnam and won medals, and very few of them actually criticized him for a lot of things things I've written about which is mainly just pure lack of competence. He actually targeted the wrong anthrax killer and the government had to pay $5 million to this poor innocent guy. On top of the fact that after 9/11 when there was questions about the FBI violating civil liberties, he would give talks to the ACLU and other groups and tell them that no, we're doing everything by the book. And, you know, he would get applause for saying we are going to uphold civil liberties. At the same time he gave those speeches, he knew that the CIA was torturing. He knew that the NSA had turned, illegally turned on massive surveillance of Americans. And so, you know, he's real good at this looking like he's the pillar of integrity, but if you look at his track record, he's part of this system and that was frustrating to watch.

I think the one thing I've learned is that time has taken a toll on him and he's at nearly 75-years-old. He's a lot more befuddled. He was not, he couldn't evenHe was stuttering and halting in his responses. In one case, he didn't know what was in his report. He had to look at pages and he misquoted what was in his report. He at one time denied it was in his report and it was. I don't think he wrote the report. I think he really was probably a figurehead simply because of this notion that he's got this integrity for being twelve years as the FBI Director, but I don't think he did. And that's probably why Aaron Zebley was seated next to him. I'll imagine that he wanted someone as a comfort when he couldn't answer questions. That he could say, Aaron, what's the answer to this?

MARC STEINER So yeah. It did come across that way. It's interesting that the Democrats are the ones who actually kept lauding his service, not the Republicans during these hearings. And I think that we can talk a bit about that in a minute, but let's go to some of the issues here. One of the issues has to do with obstruction of justice on the part of the president. Congressman Ted Lieu questioned Mueller about this when it first happened. In the first congressional hearing, people who wanted to see Trump indicted were all a flutter because of what was said, but let's watch this for a moment.

CONGRESSMAN TED LIEU (D-CA) So to recap what we've heard. We have heard today that the president ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire you. The president ordered Don McGahn to then cover that up and create a false paper trail. And now we've heard the president ordered Corey Lewandowski to tell Jeff Sessions to limit your investigation so that he you stop investigating the president. I believe a reasonable person looking at these facts could conclude that all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice have been met. I'd like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?

ROBERT MUELLER That is correct.

CONGRESSMAN TED LIEU (D-CA) The fact that the orders by the President were not carried out, that is not a defense to obstruction of justice because the statute itself is quite broad. It says that as long as you endeavor or attempt to obstruct justice, that would also constitute a crime.

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ROBERT MUELLER I'm not going to get into that at this juncture.

MARC STEINER So then, in the afternoon, this correction came from Mueller himself because I think he was made aware of what it sounded like he said and this is what he had to say.

ROBERT MUELLER I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu who said and I quote, "you didn't charge the President because of the OLC opinion." That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.

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