Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) grilled former special counsel Robert Mueller about his team’s questionable hiring practices, using his line of questioning to demonstrate that Mueller – knowingly or unknowingly – stacked his team with Hillary Clinton allies.
Mueller refused to discuss how many people he fired during the course of the investigation, but Armstrong cited an Inspector General report, which noted the termination of two individuals, an attorney and Peter Strzok:
Armstrong quoted Strzok, who claimed that he was fired, in part, because Mueller was “concerned about preserving the appearance of independence with the special counsel’s investigation.”
“Do you agree with that statement?” Armstrong asked.
“The statement was by whom?” a confused Mueller asked.
“Peter Strzok–at this hearing,” Armstrong said.
Mueller told the lawmaker that he was “not familiar” with that and ultimately denied that he fired Strzok due to those specific concerns.
“He was transferred as a result of instances involving texts,” Mueller said.
Armstrong continued, listing controversial members of Mueller’s former team – members who had connections to Clinton and Democrats, including top Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann.
Mueller said that Weissmann, who attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party, played “some role” in selecting other members of the team.
“Andrew Weissmann attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party. Did you know that before or after he came on to the team?” Armstrong asked.
“Don’t know when I found that out,” Mueller said.
“On January 30, 2017, Weissmann wrote an email to Deputy Attorney General Yates, stating, ‘I am so proud and in awe regarding her disobeying a direct order from the president.’ Did Weissmann disclose the email to you before or after he joined the team?” Armstrong pressed.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” Mueller said.
“Is that not a conflict of interest?” Armstrong asked.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” Mueller repeated.
Armstrong also mentioned Aaron Zebley, another key prosecutor, who was sitting next to Mueller during the hearing:
Aaron Zebley – the guy sitting next to you – represented Justin Cooper, a Clinton aide who destroyed one of Clinton’s mobile devices. And you must be aware by now that six of your lawyers donated $12,000 directly to Hillary Clinton. I’m not even talking about the $49,000 they donated to other Democrats – just the donations to the opponent who’s the target of your investigation.
Mueller said he “hired individuals who could do the job” and dismissed the need to consider one’s political affiliation.
“What I care about is the capability of the individual to do the job and to do the job quickly and seriously and with integrity,” Mueller said.
Armstrong, who used his line of questioning to demonstrate the questionable hiring practices of Mueller’s team, called out his colleagues for hypocrisy:
If Peter Srzok had texted those terrible things about Hillary Clinton instead of President Trump, if a team of lawyers worked for, donated thousands of dollars to, and went to Trump’s parties instead of Clinton’s, I don’t think we would be here trying to prop up an obstruction allegation.
“My colleagues would’ve spent the last four months accusing your team of being bought and paid for by the Trump campaign, and we couldn’t trust a single word of this report,” he added.