Former Special Counsel Mueller, who led a major investigation into allegations that Trump and his election team had conspired with Russia in order to win the presidential election in 2016, arrived in Congress on 24 July to answer questions from representatives on both sides of the isle regarding his probe. Here are the key points that Mueller touched upon during his three-hour testimony before the House of Representatives Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.
Still "No Collusion"
Mueller stated in his testimony that his team of investigators had failed to find sufficient evidence that could prove allegations of a conspiracy between the Trump team and Russia to rig the 2016 election, basically repeating the conclusions of his report.
"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. It was not", he said.
Alleged Russian Interference
Mueller claimed that Russia did interfere in the 2016 US election, something which Moscow has repeatedly denied, in what he described as a "sweeping, systematic fashion", reiterating claims in his report. Mueller also stated that his investigation had allegedly determined that Russia believed it would benefit from Trump winning the election.
No Exoneration on Obstruction
In his testimony, Mueller rejected US President Donald Trump's statements that the report on the results of the investigation was a "total exoneration", pointing out that he hadn’t exonerated Trump from obstruction of justice accusations, although he was not ready to accuse him of committing a crime either. He added that the president could still be prosecuted for obstruction of justice when he leaves office.
"Based on Justice Department policy and principles of fairness, we decided we would not make a determination as to whether the president committed a crime. That was our decision then and it remains our decision today", Mueller said.
Mueller also pointed to his report to confirm that Trump had indeed considered firing him from his post due to the probe into the president's alleged obstruction of justice, but at the same time he disagreed with Democrat Hakeem Jeffries' characterisation of the act as "obstructive".
"I don’t subscribe necessarily to the way you analyse that. I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark. But I’m not supportive of that analytical charge", Mueller said.
The special counsel also stated that the investigation had not been curtailed or hindered in any way.
On the Grounds for the Probe
In his opening speech, Mueller indicated that he wouldn’t be able to answer some of the lawmakers' questions relating to how his probe began or the role of the so-called Steele Dossier. He cited ongoing Justice Department investigations into these matters as the reason for remaining silent.
The Steele Dossier, paid for by and compiled at the request of the Democratic Party, is a collection of claims allegedly proving the existence of a conspiracy between Trump's team and Russia to rig the 2016 election in his favour, and which reportedly served to justify the wiretapping of Trump's campaign managers.
The allegations in the dossier were later found to be unreliable and baseless by the US intelligence community, but Republicans argue that it was still used to justify unlawfully spying on the Trump campaign and to validate what the US president himself described as a campaign of "unprecedented presidential harassment".
On the Presence of Democrats on the Investigation Board
When asked about the reason why his investigation team included numerous Democrats but no Republicans, Mueller responded that he had never hired people to his team based on their political affiliation. He added that he had only paid attention to a person's skills and their ability to get the job done quickly.