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House GOP Vow Tough Mueller Questions  07/22 06:21

   House Republicans are pledging tough questioning of special counsel Robert 
Mueller when he testifies before Congress this week as Democrats plan to air 
evidence of wrongdoing by President Donald Trump in a potentially last-ditch 
bid to impeach him.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans are pledging tough questioning of 
special counsel Robert Mueller when he testifies before Congress this week as 
Democrats plan to air evidence of wrongdoing by President Donald Trump in a 
potentially last-ditch bid to impeach him.

   Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on House Judiciary Committee, said the 
American public is growing weary of the Russia investigation three months after 
the release of the special counsel's 448-page report and that "any thought of 
impeachment is waning." He said Republicans will be focused on making clear 
that the report represents a "final episode" in the Russia probe, which he 
described as flawed.

   "Remember, the Mueller report is a one-sided report," Collins said. "It has 
not been questioned from the other side. This is our chance to do that."

   Days before back-to-back hearings Wednesday, both sides seemed to agree that 
Mueller's testimony could be pivotal in shifting public opinion on the question 
of "holding the president accountable."

   "This is a president who has violated the law 6 ways from Sunday," said New 
York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He argued that 
Mueller's report lays out "very substantial evidence" that Trump is guilty of 
"high crimes and misdemeanors," the constitutional standard for impeachment.

   "We have to present --- or let Mueller present --- those facts to the 
American people ... because the administration must be held accountable and no 
president can be above the law," Nadler said.

   The House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee will 
question Mueller in separate hearings on the report. While the report did not 
find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy between 
the Trump campaign and Russia to swing the election, it said Trump could not be 
cleared of trying to obstruct the investigation . But Mueller believed Trump 
couldn't be indicted in part because of a Justice Department opinion against 
prosecuting a sitting president.

   Mueller has said he doesn't intend to speak beyond the findings of the 
report in congressional hearings.

   Still, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee plan to focus on a narrow set of 
episodes laid out in the report to direct Americans' attention to what they see 
as the most egregious examples of Trump's conduct, which point to obstruction 
of justice.

   The examples include Trump's directions to then-White House counsel Donald 
McGahn to have Mueller removed and, later, orders from Trump to McGahn to deny 
that happened. Democrats also will focus questioning on a series of meetings 
Trump had with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in which the 
Republican president directed Lewandowski to persuade then-Attorney General 
Jeff Sessions to limit Mueller's investigation.

   Collins, meanwhile, said Republicans will focus in part on the origins of 
the Russia investigation, which Trump has long derided as a political "witch 
hunt" as well as evidence they see of potential bias in the FBI's handling of 
the probe.

   "There's going to be a lot of questions for what he did say, what he didn't 
say, and how this thing started," he said, referring to Mueller. "This is the 
time that the Democrats have got to show on their end how much time they have 
been wasting of our committee and how we have not been getting things done 
because they simply don't like this president, who was elected by the people in 
2016, and they're just trying to derail him for 2020."

   Mueller's appearance comes more than two years since the start of the Russia 
investigation, an extraordinary moment in Trump's presidency when, after Trump 
had fired FBI Director James Comey, his Justice Department appointed Mueller to 
take over the inquiry into election interference and the potential role that 
Trump and his winning 2016 campaign may have played.

   While Mueller's testimony was once envisioned as a crystalizing event, a 
Watergate-style moment to uncover truths, public attention has drifted in the 
months since the report was released.

   "We want Bob Mueller to bring it to life, to talk about what's in that 
report," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence 
Committee. "It's a pretty damning set of facts that involve a presidential 
campaign in a close race welcoming help from a hostile foreign power, not 
reporting it but eagerly embracing it, building it into their campaign 
strategy, lying about it to cover up, then obstructing an investigation into 
foreign interference again to try to cover up."

   Intelligence committee aides have said they believe the public has received 
a slanted view of what Mueller found on the question of criminal conspiracy 
because of Trump's repeated claims of "no collusion," and because the details 
of Russia's interference in the election --- and the outreach to the Trump 
campaign --- haven't gotten enough attention.

   "Who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation 
himself?" Schiff asked.

   Nadler said he's not worried that Republicans might seek to attack the 
credibility of the Russia investigation and says he hopes to take cues from the 
public after the hearing about "where we go from here."

   "We hope it won't end up being a dud," he said.

   Nadler spoke on "Fox News Sunday," Schiff appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" 
and Collins was on Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures."


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