Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) caught former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a contradiction in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning, noting that Mueller was saying something different now than he said in his report.
Democrats had hauled Mueller before the committee after the report found that there had been no collusion between any American and the Russian government in attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, and failed to arrive at a conclusion about obstruction of justice. (Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined that there was insufficient basis for an obstruction of justice prosecution.)
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, and with President Donald Trump’s repeated claims of exoneration, Democrats were eager to have Mueller testify directly. He agreed to do so but stated that he would not testify to anything that was different from his report.
In his opening statement, Mueller stated: “We did not address collusion, which is not a legal term. rather, we focused on whether the evidence was sufficient to charge any member of the campaign with taking part in a criminal conspiracy, and it was not.”
That statement suggested that the report had not, in fact, concluded that Trump had colluded with Russia — contrary to what the president has said, and with common public understanding of the report.
Collins began by asking Mueller whether “collusion” and “conspiracy” were synonymous. Mueller said, “No.”
However, Collins read Mueller’s own report to him: “On page 180 of volume one of your report, you wrote, ‘As defined in legal dictionaries, collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in the general federal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. 371; … Are you sitting here today testifying something different than what your report states?”
Mueller struggled to explain the contradiction, and ultimately admitted that the interpretation in his report was the correct one — rather than the answer he had just given Congress.
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.