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2-min read

‘Hearing a National Embarrassment’: Trump after Mueller Says His Report Didn't Exonerate President

Mueller told the hearing he would have sought Trump's indictment were it not for a Justice Department policy against charging a sitting president.

AFP

Updated:July 24, 2019, 11:17 PM IST
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‘Hearing a National Embarrassment’: Trump after Mueller Says His Report Didn't Exonerate President
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (Image: AP/PTI)
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Washington: President Donald Trump on Wednesday described Robert Mueller's testimony to Congress on the Russia probe as an "embarrassment" to the nation, mocking his Democratic rivals for asking the former special counsel to appear on Capitol Hill.

Trump had said he would not watch the day's proceedings, but after the first of two congressional hearings in the House Judiciary Committee, he made his feelings known.

"I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning's hearing," Trump tweeted. "Now, after three hours, Robert Mueller has to subject himself to #ShiftySchiff - an embarrassment to our country," he added, referring to the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff.

Grilled by lawmakers on his two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Mueller said he did not exonerate Trump, but once more refused to tell lawmakers if the president committed a crime.

Just before Trump's tweet, his spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham weighed in.

"The last three hours have been an epic embarrassment for the Democrats," she said, midway through the marathon day of hearings for the former special counsel. "Expect more of the same in the second half."

Mueller told the hearing he would have sought Trump's indictment were it not for a Justice Department policy against charging a sitting president.

Mueller, answering questions publicly for the first time on his inquiry, also defended the integrity of his investigation as he appeared for eagerly anticipated testimony two back-to-back televised congressional hearings that carry high stakes for Trump and Democrats who are split between impeaching him or moving on to the 2020 election.

The former FBI director, who spent 22 months investigating what he concluded was Russian interference in a "sweeping and systematic fashion" in the 2016 US election to help Trump and the president's conduct, appeared for more than 3-1/2 hours before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

Mueller then appeared before the House Intelligence Committee for more questioning. Democrats control the House, while Trump's fellow Republicans control the Senate.

The Judiciary Committee's Democratic chairman, Jerrold Nadler, praised Mueller and said no one, including Trump, is "above the law." But Trump's Republican allies on the committee tried to paint Mueller's investigation as unfair to the president, with Louie Gohmert heatedly telling him "you perpetuated injustice" and conservative congressman Guy Reschenthaler calling the manner in which the inquiry was conducted "un-American."

Mueller's 448-page report, released in redacted form on April 18, did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice in a series of actions aimed at impeding the inquiry, but did not exonerate him.

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