Mueller says ‘outright liars’ made it harder to complete his report

Some of the witnesses in a probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election “were not telling the full truth” while others were “outright liars,” former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified Wednesday before Congress.

“Did other witnesses lie to you?” asked Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., during the morning hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.

“I think there are probably a spectrum of witnesses in terms of those who are not telling the full truth or those who are outright liars,” Mueller replied.

Mueller’s report said “those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.”

Mueller’s investigative team indicted several Trump aides and confidants on perjury charges in the course of his two-year investigation.

Mueller said at a May press conference in Washington that the report his office released following the probe into Russian 2016 election meddling was tantamount to his testimony. His lengthy report found no evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to influence the election, but did list 10 possible instances of obstruction of justice by the president during the probe. Mueller also announced his office was closing up shop at the news conference.

But the Democrats who lead the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in U.S. House of Representatives decided to subpoena Mueller to testify, announcing on June 25 that the former FBI head would appear before lawmakers in open session July 17. The date was later changed to July 24.

“We look forward to hearing his testimony, as do all Americans,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a June statement.

Nadler and Schiff acknowledged Mueller’s preference to let his “written work to speak for itself” in their June letter accompanying the subpoena, but the pair wrote that “the American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions.”

Mueller’s May press conference sparked some Democrats to call for Trump’s impeachment, with some pointing to Mueller’s comment that “if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.”

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Those impeachment calls included a handful of Democratic presidential candidates.

“I believe a fair inference from what he heard from Bob Mueller is there would have been indictments returned against this president,” if not for the Justice Department guidance saying a president can’t be charged, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., told reporters during a stop in South Carolina, McClatchy reported. On Twitter, Harris called Mueller’s news conference statements “an impeachment referral.”

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.
Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.