WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — As lawmakers work out details behind the scenes of how the upcoming hearing on Capitol Hill with former special counsel Robert Mueller will be carried out, Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) weighs in to the discussion.
Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) talks about his participation in the scheduled Congressional hearing with former special counsel Bob Mueller. He discusses some of his potential concerns and questions with DC Correspondent Alana Austin. (Source: GrayDC)
Next Wednesday, Mueller is expected to testify before the Democratic-led House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Meantime, Cline, a first-term Congressman, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, is concerned that he and other freshmen members will be blocked from asking Mueller questions.
"I'm happy to have Mr. Mueller in if we can ask him a bunch of questions, but if the Speaker is going to try and create this contrived sharing of jurisdiction with intelligence and splitting people's time and taking people's time, then that's just going to make it a big farce and more of a circus than we've seen," said Cline.
Next week on Capitol Hill, legislators are anticipating the first opportunity to question Mueller about his years-long investigation into 2016 alleged Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign.
While Mueller released a 448-page report in April, some Democratic lawmakers continue to raise questions about whether Congress should further investigate whether Trump obstructed justice, which is a question Mueller did not draw a conclusion on.
Largely, Republicans argue the case is closed and that Mueller's report and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr cleared the President of any wrongdoing. Cline says he believes the report showed there was no collusion nor evidence of any criminal activity by the Trump campaign.
Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed others to influence or curtail the Russia investigation after the special counsel's appointment in May 2017. Those efforts "were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests," Mueller wrote.
Mueller wrote that he would have exonerated Trump if he could, but he wasn't able to do that given the evidence he uncovered. And he said the Justice Department's standing opinion that a sitting president couldn't be indicted meant he also couldn't recommend Trump be criminally charged, even in secret.
The president's lawyers have said Trump's conduct fell within his constitutional powers, but Mueller's team deemed the episodes deserving of scrutiny for potential criminal acts.
Cline adds that he wants to have a better understanding of the origins and motivations of the Russia investigation.
"We have questions about when he arrived at the decision that there was no collusion, that there was no effort to conspire with Russia, and why he continued after that point to pursue his investigation," said Cline.
If you have not read it yet, you can find the entire Mueller report here.
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