06:58 GMT +320 October 2019
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    Former FBI Director Robert Mueller (File)

    Robert Mumbler? Special Counsel Gives ‘Disoriented’ Russiagate Testimony

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    Observers were bemused Wednesday by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s marathon testimony before the US House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. Called to answer questions about his March report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election, Mueller’s favorite refrain quickly became “I’m not going to talk about that.”

    “Very, very painful” to watch: that’s how former Barack Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod described Mueller’s eight-hour testimony before Congress Wednesday. Democrats called the former special counsel before the two committees to clarify a number of questions about his two-volume report presented to the Justice Department in March. After becoming dissatisfied with Attorney General William Barr’s redacted version of the report which he presented to Congress, Democrats subpoenaed the unredacted version of the report - and then sought testimony from Mueller himself, when Barr continued to resist.

    However, following direction from the Department of Justice to limit his answers to conclusions arrived at in his eponymous report, Mueller often found himself dodging leading questions from lawmakers of both parties and simply giving noncommittal answers like “I can't answer that question,” “I’m not going to get into that” and “That’s outside my purview.”

    Even when he did answer questions more fully, the former FBI director remained laconic, limiting his answers to short affirmations or demurring parries.

    To lawmakers and observers expecting Mueller’s testimony to set the record straight on questions about alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, alleged attempts to interfere in the 2016 election and whether US President Donald Trump obstructed justice by interfering with Mueller’s investigation, the former special counsel’s terseness left them baffled and frustrated.

    The Mueller report concluded that Trump’s election campaign did not collude with the Russian government, but reported that Moscow made several attempts to interfere with the election in a variety of ways, including hacking the Democratic National Committee’s emails and delivering them to WikiLeaks for publishing. The Russian government has denied all such claims. Mueller also said he deferred to Barr on whether or not Trump obstructed justice, and Barr concluded there wasn’t sufficient evidence to say he had.

    ​To some, it seemed as if Mueller knew little about the report that bore his name, and they wondered if it was he or his lieutenants who assembled and drew conclusions about the nearly two-year-long probe. One person drew a comparison to a scene in the 1999 film “Office Space,” in which an employee is grilled by auditors as to just how essential his position really is:

    ​Others noted that lawmakers set themselves up for failure by hitting Mueller with heavily framed questions instead of simple, yes-or-no queries about facts, forcing him to reject their interpretations and not give them the answers they really sought.

    ​Some folks found the hearing just plain boring and saw it as proof Mueller was a figurehead for an investigation about whose contents he’s shockingly illiterate.

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    answers, tweets, Russian collusion, testimony, Congress, Mueller Report, Robert Mueller
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