Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly on Wednesday morning that the potential collusion between Democrats and Russians in the 2016 presidential election was “outside my purview.”
Though his mandate required him to investigate Russian interference in the election without specific reference to a particular candidate or party, Mueller made it clear he had only investigated President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Under questioning by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Mueller seemed confused, at times, about the very question:
Chabot: When you talk about the firm that produced the Steele reporting, the name of the firm that produced that was Fusion GPS. Is that correct?
Mueller: I’m not familiar with that.
Chabot: It’s not a trick question. It was Fusion GPS. It produced the opposition research document widely known as the Steele dossier and the owner of Fusion GPS was someone named Glen Simpson. Are you familiar with — ?
Mueller: That’s outside of my purview.
Chabot: Glen Simpson was never mentioned in the 448-page Mueller report, was he?
Mueller: Well, as I said, it’s out outside my purview and it’s being handled in the department by others.
Chabot: He was not. 448 pages, the owner of Fusion GPS that did the Steele dossier that started all this, he’s not mentioned in there. Let me move on. At the same time, Fusion GPS was working to collect opposition research on Donald Trump from foreign sources on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. It also was representing a Russian-based company, Prevezon, which had been sanctioned by the U.S. government. Are you aware of that?
Mueller: It’s outside my purview.
Chabot: Thank you. One of the key players — I’ll go to something different — one of the key players in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting was Natalia Veselnitskaya, who you described in your report as a Russian attorney who advocated for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act. Veselnitskaya had been working with none other than Glen Simpson and Fusion GPS since at least early 2014. Are you aware of that?
Mueller: That’s outside my purview.
Chabot: Thank you. You didn’t mention that or her connections to Glen Simpson at Fusion GPS in your report at all. Let me move on. Now, NBC News has reported the following: quote, “Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya says she first received the supposedly incriminating information she brought to Trump Tower describing alleged tax evasion and donation to Democrats from none other than Glen Simpson, the Fusion GPS owner. You didn’t include that in the report and I assume —
Mueller: This is a matter being handled by others in the Department of Justice.
Chabot: Thank you, Now, your report spends 14 pages discussing the June 9th, 2016, Trump Tower meeting. It would be fair to say, would it not, that you spent significant resources investigating that meeting?
Mueller: I refer you to the report.
Chabot: OK. And President Trump wasn’t at the meeting.
Mueller: No. He was not.
Chabot: Thank you. In stark contrast to the actions of the Trump campaign, we know that the Clinton campaign did pay Fusion GPS to gatther dirt on the Trump campaign from persons associated with foreign governments. But your report doesn’t mention a thing about Fusion GPS in it. And you didn’t investigate Fusion GPS’s connections to Russia. So let me ask you this: can you see that from neglecting to mention Glen Simpson and Fusion GPS’s involvement with the Clinton campaign to focusing on a brief meeting at the Trump Tower that produced nothing to ignoring the Clinton campaign’s own ties to Fusion GPS why some view your report as a pretty one-sided attack on the president?
Chabot: Well, I tell you — It’s still outside my purview.
Mueller: I would just note finally that I guess it is by chance, by coincidence, the things left out of the report tended to be favorable to the president.
The hearing continued.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.